Gov. Greg Abbott
(R) has called for a special session of the state legislature to begin next month, likely inflaming debate over a restrictive voting rights
bill that stalled in May after Democrats
staged a last-minute walkout to block it.
Although Abbott's office did not immediately announce what items would be on the special session's agenda, the voting rights bill is widely expected to be a main focus. The New York Times
, citing a Republican legislative staff member in Texas, confirmed that voting laws, as well as other efforts, such as an overhaul of the state's bail system, would be on the docket.
The new session starts on July 8 and could last up to 30 days.
The move comes just weeks after a dramatic 11th-hour walkout by Democrats from the statehouse, leaving the legislature short of the 100-member quorum requirement. The effort was largely a symbolic delay tactic, as Republicans
control both chambers of the legislature.
Abbott was enraged by the move and vowed to veto a portion of the state budget
that funds the legislature earlier this month, which he did.
Senate Bill 7 was widely anticipated to be one of the most restrictive voting rights bills in the country, imposing new restrictions on absentee voting, empowering poll watchers from political parties, and prohibiting drive-through voting and 24-hour polling places.
The bill would also have made it easier to reverse an election
Despite the fact that many of these provisions were successfully enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic
, Republicans have slammed them as mechanisms for voter fraud without providing any evidence.
Any new legislation must be started from scratch; however, lawmakers may use the final version of Senate Bill 7 as a framework and move forward quickly.
The restrictive bill is part of the Republican Party
's nationwide effort to limit voting rights, which critics say unfairly targets low-income Americans and communities of color. Republicans in the United States Senate
also blocked debate on the For the People Act
, a landmark voting rights bill, on Tuesday.