Maybe the third time will be the charm for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Republican governor on Tuesday called his third special legislative session of the year, citing the need to take up redistricting, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, American Rescue Plan spending and transgender athletes in women’s collegiate sports.
“The Texas Legislature now has the opportunity to redraw legislative and congressional districts in accordance with the new census numbers,” Mr. Abbott said. “In addition to redistricting, there are still issues remaining that are critical to building a stronger and brighter future for all Texans.”
The session scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20, follows two contentious legislative assemblies that saw Republicans prevail with the passage of an elections integrity measure despite House Democrats breaking quorum for 38 days in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 into law Tuesday and was promptly hit with lawsuits filed by a spate of organizations arguing that the measure’s provisions were unlawful and would restrict ballot access for voters, especially minority voters.
“This law is an embarrassment, one that students will see as taking us backward to a time when many voices and their votes were repressed,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation Teachers.
The teachers’ union was joined by Voto Latino, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans and LULAC Texas in the federal lawsuit filed by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias.
Also suing was the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on behalf of several organizations, including the Houston Area Urban League, arguing that “this law was created to suppress votes.”
The American Civil Liberties Union signaled that it would also take action, tweeting, “we’ll see you in court. Again.”
The provisions being challenged include the ban on drive-thru voting, drop boxes and 24-hour voting; expanded access for poll-watchers; prohibitions on unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots, and disclosure requirements for those who help others complete their ballot.
Meanwhile, conservatives praised the Texas bill, saying it would “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in the Lone Star state,” as Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson said.
“After months of obstruction from Democrats, S.B. 1 has finally been passed and signed into law,” said FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon. “Ending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications and protecting poll watchers are common-sense measures that bolster confidence in Texas’ elections.”
The next 30-day session was called shortly after the second special session wrapped up Thursday after the Republican-controlled legislature passed bills to squelch progressive racial theories in education; increase border-security funding and limit abortion-inducing pills to seven weeks’ gestation.