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By Cameron Wallace
LGBTQ groups and other progressive organizations are planning a large-scale protest at the Capitol on Tuesday, July 18, the first day of the Special Session.
The One Texas Resistance Rally and Day of Action, beginning at 9 a.m. on the south steps, comes in response to several measures on Governor Greg Abbott’s agenda for the special session, including the infamous anti-transgender “bathroom bill.”
In June, the organizations penned an open letter to Abbott about discriminatory legislation considered during the regular session, writing that “an attack on any Texan is an attack on all Texans.”
“The message is that we are one Texas, and we want the Legislature to focus on real issues, not distractions and fabricated issues like the bathroom bill,” said Jose Medina, deputy communications director at Texas Freedom Network. “We have to keep doing this sort of thing, because we don’t want them to be able to ignore it.
“We can’t just sit on the sidelines,” Medina added.
Only one piece of legislation must pass during the special session—a bill to reauthorize a number of important governmental agencies, including the Texas Medical Board. But Abbott’s agenda includes 19 other bills, and he can add more at any time.
In addition to the well-publicized bathroom bill, other fractious proposals on Abbott’s agenda include measures designed to restrict access to abortions, a bill that would trigger automatic rollback elections for local officials when property taxes grow beyond 5 percent, and a $1,000 pay increase for teachers.
A special session can last no more than 30 days, but the governor can call as many special sessions as he likes. Because time is short, and because the agenda for the session is extensive, legislators could move much faster than in a regular session if they avoid stalemates.
The 19 nonessential measures won’t officially be added to the legislative agenda until after the mandatory sunset bills pass. After that happens, each could potentially pass after as little as one day of debate. During regular sessions, committees or subcommittees must post notice of public hearings on bills at least 5 days in advance. During a special session, that period is only 24 hours.
Participants in the One Texas Resistance rally are encouraged to start filling the steps of the Capitol by 9. The main rally will be held at 11, followed by advocacy inside the Capitol until 2. Afterward, organizers will lead a meeting to discuss what to expect during the 30 days and how to stay informed.
Other groups participating in the rally include Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Texas, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas.
Those who plan to attend are encouraged to RSVP on Facebook. To participate in a Houston carpool, fill out this Google Form. Carpool participants will meet at 7 a.m. at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, at 2025 W. 11th St., where there will be coffee and snacks.