Next month, the legislative session will get underway. After the last session, which was a massive rightwing bonanza, what more do Greg Abbott and his fellow Republicans want? Well, a lot more of the same.
Two years ago, Abbott and the Texas GOP ruthlessly enacted an agenda that was a Republican wish list. They banned abortion. They passed permitless carry. They had a voter suppression bill. And they decisively waded into the school culture wars.
Several bills have already been pre-filed for the next session, including some usual suspects like book targets. We also know that several lawmakers are eyeing even more legislation against abortion, like prohibiting internet providers from showing websites that have abortion pills. How that squares with their veneration of free speech is anybody’s guess.
The facts remain that Republicans are firmly in control of Texas. The 2022 election was a painful rebuke to the idea that this isn’t a red state. Recently, lieutenant governor Dan Patrick unveiled his list of priorities for the next session. It includes a parental bill of rights and more legislation targeting transgender children. Notably, though Patrick says he wants to help rural Texas, Medicaid expansion did not make the priority list.
The next session appears primed for even more hurtful legislation against the LGBTQ community. Patrick has signaled he would like legislation in Texas that models the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. Another pre-filed bill from a Republican state representative would force any establishment that hosts drag queens to register as a “sexually oriented business.”
Despite the rightwing lurch, or maybe because of it, people keep coming to Texas in droves. This year the state hit a milestone with over thirty million residents. Abbott and company have made it clear that their Texas is ruby red, and we should all expect the next session to deliver more of that vision.