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Abbott Makes Sunset Bill Top Priority For Special Session

Legislation to extend the life of state licensing agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, fell victim to end-of-session wrangling between Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus over the bathroom bill and property tax relief. Governor Greg Abbott is determined not to let that happen again.

The Texas Capitol at sunset


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Lawmakers return to the State Capitol on Tuesday for the start of a thirty-day special session. Members have already filed more than 100 bills. But before they can deal with any of them, they'll have to pass sunset legislation.

Every Texas state agency carries an expiration date. The Legislature has to vote every few years to extend the agency's life. Five of these were still awaiting action when the regular session ended – among them, the Texas Medical Board.

"You can't have medicine being practiced in the state without state oversight," says Joey Longley, former director of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. He says the medical board will begin shutting down September 1 unless lawmakers act soon. "It can't happen. You've got Medicaid reimbursements. There's all sorts of things that go into that. Not to mention malpractice and liability. The list is too great to enumerate."

Other agencies that need sunset legislation to keep their doors open include the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Toward the end of the regular session. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick threatened to force a special session, refusing to bring up sunset legislation in the Senate unless the House passed property tax relief and a bathroom bill. But Governor Greg Abbott controls the agenda for the special session. Under his timeline, the Senate has to pass a sunset bill before the Legislature can deal with anything else.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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