Governor Abbott Calls for Special Legislative Session—On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Abbott declared that he would be exercising his constitutional power to call state lawmakers back into Austin to address business unfinished during the 140 days of the recently concluded 85th Regular Session. After considerable speculation as to what subjects the Governor would direct lawmakers to address, he rolled out a list of twenty items that ranged across a variety of issues. First and foremost, the Governor has demanded that a bill come to his desk that authorizes the continued operation of key state agencies, most prominently the Texas Medical Board. Without this authorization, the state would lose its ability to certify new physicians. Although this is an important issue, it is not unprecedented in Texas history. Less than a decade ago, lawmakers returned for a special session after they failed to reauthorize other state boards in the regular session. Once – and only once – the House and Senate pass the agency authorizations, the Governor has directed that they move to address nineteen other policies:
- A teacher pay raise of $1,000
- Giving school administrators flexibility in teacher hiring and retention
- School finance reform
- School choice for special-needs students
- Rollback elections for property tax increases
- 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 processes
- Municipal annexation reform
- Preventing local entities from passing their own texting-while-driving bans
- Restrictions on bathroom use for transgender Texans
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer funding to subsidize health providers that also perform abortion
- Requiring women to get separate insurance policies to cover non-emergency abortions
- Increasing existing reporting requirements when complications arise during abortions
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
- Extending the state’s maternal mortality task force
Although the Governor has established this list of issues, it is up to the representatives and senators to write and negotiate the actual policies. The special session will last for 30 days, at which point the Governor will evaluate whether lawmakers have adequately addressed these twenty issues. The Governor has the authority to continue to call for as many additional special sessions as he desires. Of the twenty items proposed on Tuesday, none are explicitly tailored to address agriculture issues. Nonetheless, TGSA will remain in Austin throughout the duration of proceedings to ensure that the scope of this special session remains limited to the items proposed.
Farm Bill Rules Not Subject to Two-for-One Executive Order—When the 2018 Farm Bill is written, it will not be subject to President Trump’s executive order mandating that for every new regulation created, two others must be repealed. According to Rebeckah Adcock, senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, statutory regulations generally will not be subject to the offset. Read more about the impact of the executive order on the next farm bill here.
Export Report—Sorghum exports fluctuated this week due to tight inventory remaining from the previous year’s crop with China, Japan, and Mexico committing to purchase 2 million bushels. This brings the total commitments for the year to 169 million bushels or 78 percent of the USDA export target. Exports are still ahead of the 5 year average pace and very similar to last year’s pace. Deliveries remained strong with shipments to China, Japan, and Mexico totaling 3.02 million bushels. Prices on the Gulf Coast were stable for July delivery at 113 percent of corn prices or $4.63. Cash price bids in the interior remained steady.