AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday revived the GOP’s thwarted efforts to pass new voting laws in America’s biggest red state after Democrats temporarily derailed a restrictive bill with a late-night walkout in the state Capitol in May.
As expected, Abbott made new election laws one of nearly a dozen items — including border security and other GOP lightning rod issues — that he is instructing lawmakers to revisit over the next 30 days in a special session that begins Thursday.
The two-term governor, who is up for reelection next year and has not ruled out a presidential run in 2024, offered no immediate guidance about what changes he wants in Texas’ elections laws. But already, Republicans are backing away from the two most contentious issues that fueled Democrats’ dramatic quorum break just before a midnight deadline over the Memorial Day weekend.
He also ordered lawmakers to restore funding for Texas’ legislative branch after vetoing paychecks for roughly 2,000 Capitol employees following the walkout.
“These Special Session priority items put the people of Texas first and will keep the Lone Star State on a path to prosperity,” Abbott said.
The GOP’s overwhelming majority in the Texas Capitol means an elections bill will probably pass, although Democrats have vowed to continue fighting and have not ruled out breaking quorum again.
Republican State Representative Jacey Jetton, who helped negotiate the state’s previous omnibus voting bill, known as Senate Bill 7, said he was hopeful that items related to mail ballot harvesting, voter roll maintenance, preventing fraud by voter assistance, and where and when people can vote will be included in this session’s election integrity legislation.
“The Senate and the House are both eager to work on this issue and get it done,” Jetton said.
Jetton said he wasn’t sure how this session’s voting legislation would look, but many of the original elements of Senate Bill 7 “found a lot of agreement, at least among Republicans,” in both chambers. He said he expected “a number of these elements will come back in some form or fashion,” and that he hoped members of both parties could examine the new legislation without partisanship to find some common ground.