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Texas special session agenda includes critical race theory, trans sports ban and voting restrictions

The Texas Legislature will convene for a special session on Thursday at 10 a.m. (Stuart Seeger/CC)

State lawmakers will reconvene at the Texas Capitol on Thursday morning for a special session, where Gov. Greg Abbott has asked that they prioritize 11 issues not passed during the regular session, which ended May 31.

"Two of my emergency items, along with other important legislation, did not make it to my desk during the regular session, and we have a responsibility to finish the job on behalf of all Texans," Abbott said in a statement Wednesday.

The agenda includes:

  • Bail reform: This includes legislation reforming the bail system to protect the public from accused criminals who may be released on bail. Bail reform advocates have said Abbott's proposal does not address cash bail practices that multiple federal courts have found to be discriminatory against poor people, according to the Texas Tribune.
  • Elections: This includes legislation "strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas," according to Abbott. The GOP elections bill would have limited early voting hours and drive-thru voting, among other things, and died in the final hours of the regular session after House Democrats staged a walkout.
  • Border security: This relates to legislation that funds law-enforcement agencies, counties and other border security strategies.
  • Social media censorship: This includes legislation pushing back on private social media companies that censor users who violate their user policies or "silence conservative ideas -[and] religious beliefs," Abbott explained it in March, as reported by the Texas Tribune.
  • Article X funding: This item relates to legislation providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislature agencies. Abbott vetoed funding for the legislative branch last month after House Democrats killed the GOP priority elections bill, leaving lawmakers, staffers and aides without paychecks.
  • Family violence prevention: This relates to legislation that would require schools to educate middle and high school students about dating violence, domestic violence and child abuse but would also give parents a choice to opt out.
  • Youth sports: After a campaign by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Abbott included legislation that would prohibit transgender students from participating on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, according to the Texas Tribune.
  • Abortion: This relates to legislation that would prohibit people from providing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service along with other restrictions. State lawmakers passed one of the strictest abortion measures in the country, banning the procedure as early as six weeks, during the regular session.
  • Thirteenth check: This relates to a "thirteenth check" or one-time supplemental benefits payment under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
  • Critical race theory: This relates to legislation similar to House Bill 3979, which dictates how Texas teachers can speak to students about current events and America's history of racism, according to the Texas tribune. Although Abbott recently signed this bill into law, he has signaled that he wants more done to abolish critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that race is a social construct, which has become a national cause among Republicans.
  • Appropriations: This relates to legislation that would provide appropriations from available general revenue for property tax relief, increasing the number of foster care providers and cybersecurity safeguards.

In addition to this special session, state lawmakers will reconvene later this year to tackle redistricting.


A mortgage banker walks us through the math on purchasing a 'mid-price' Austin home

So you want to buy a house?

To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.

Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.

Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.

So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.

Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.

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