Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas Welcome to the Official Website for the Texas Senate
Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas
Welcome to the official website for the
Texas Senate
Senator Jane Nelson: District 12
Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Special Session 101: A Guide to the 1st Called Session of the 85th Legislature

The governor has called the Legislature back into a special session beginning Tuesday to take up unfinished business from the 85th Regular Session. Here is a guide to 1st Called Session of the 85th Legislature:

How it Works

Under the Texas Constitution, by proclamation the governor may call the Legislature back into a special session. Legislation is limited to issues listed on the proclamation –- referred to as “the call” in Capitol circles. The special session begins with a clean slate. No matter how far a piece of legislation advanced in the regular session, it must start over from the beginning in a special session. Bills undergo the normal legislative process with committee hearings and floor debates. There is no limit to the number of special sessions a governor may call, but the process starts from scratch in each special session.

The Calendar

The special session begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 18, 2017. According to the Constitution, special sessions are limited to 30 days. In order for legislation to become law, it must reach the governor’s desk no later than August 16, 2017. The governor has 10 days to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.

The Issues

So far the governor has issued a proclamation asking the Legislature to consider Sunset legislation that stalled in the regular session to renew the Texas Medical Board and four other professional health licensing agencies. The governor has stated that, once the Senate passes Sunset legislation, he will add the following issues:

  • Teacher pay;
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices;
  • School finance reform commission;
  • School choice for special needs students;
  • Property tax reform;
  • Caps on state and local spending;
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land;
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects;
  • Speeding up local government permitting process;
  • Municipal annexation reform;
  • Texting while driving preemption;
  • Privacy;
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues;
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers;
  • Pro-life insurance reform;
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise;
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders;
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud; and
  • Extending maternal mortality task force.

For more information on the special session, visit the Legislative Reference Library online at