Following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday called for the formation of “special legislative committees” to examine and develop legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, police training and firearm safety.
The committees will make recommendations for lawmakers to consider in the next legislative session, in 2023.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly announced the Texas Senate would be forming the “Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans” made up largely of Republicans:
Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, Chair
Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, Co-Vice Chair
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, Co-Vice Chair
Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston
Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury
Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen
Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Tyler
Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo
The list did not include Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde in the Texas Senate. Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has not released a similar list of members.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to urge the governor to call a special session that would see lawmakers return to Austin immediately.
Days after the shooting, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa called for a special session to ban automatic weapons and “pass life-saving legislation.”
Shortly after, the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus called for an emergency special session to pass five pieces of legislation: raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, requiring universal background checks, red flag laws, a “cooling off” period for purchases of a firearm, and regulating civilian ownership of high capacity magazines.
Those calls for a special session continued this week after Abbott requested the formation of the special committee.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who recently confronted the governor at a press conference, said: “Anyone can call for a committee. Only a governor can call a special session. Do your job.”
Lina Hidalgo and Clay Jenkins, the county judges of Texas’ two largest metro areas, also called on the governor to return lawmakers to Austin.
State Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Fort Worth), who sits on the senate’s education committee and will not be returning for the regular session due to being gerrymandered out of office, said she visited Robb Elementary School in Uvalde after the massacre.
“With roughly 75 days remaining until Texas children return to the classroom, we cannot wait to put policy ideas into practice,” Powell said in a press release. “If lawmakers are going to convene at the Texas Capitol, it must be to take immediate action. Ensuring we effectively implement policies to prevent the next mass shooting requires participation by the entire legislature in a special session. If not now, when?”
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org