Texas House declares Special Session sine die

The first Special Session of the Texas legislature for 2023 got underway Tuesday, May 30.

"Members I hope you enjoyed your summer, I sure did," said a grinning House Speaker Dade Phelan.

The Senate also got to work. The members in the Upper Chamber quickly resubmitted legislation that Senate leaders claim addressed what Governor Greg Abbott wanted lawmakers to pass. 

The Special Session was called after deals failed Monday night on border security and a property tax cut. During a session re-cap event at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Lt Gov Dan Patrick put the blame squarely on leaders in the House, especially Speaker Dade Phelan.

"So, yeah, I'm fed up about it. It's time to call it out," said Patrick.

Patrick wanted the House to accept his property tax plan that does not include an earlier House proposal which had an appraisal cap for small business. Senate finance committee members re-approved their tax cut bill in a meeting that lasted about 10 minutes Tuesday afternoon. It was followed by a final vote by the full senate.

"We are in some ways having a dessert before we eat our vegetables, but nevertheless, it’s a very good bill," said Senator Sarah Eckhardt (D) Austin.

The 30 votes to approve the legislation backs up a promise Patrick made a few hours earlier.

"I will not step back from this, and I might be the last guy standing, but I'll be the last guy standing," said Patrick.

Lt Gov Patrick also held his ground on another idea, abolishing all property taxes. HJR 2 was filed in the House for consideration.

"If you get rid of property taxes altogether, school property taxes, which are about half the bill. You have only sales tax to prop up a state of 30 to 35, 40 million people in the next decade. What happens when we have a decline in sales tax go down? You have no money to pay your bills. You can't be a one legged horse," said Patrick.

That assessment didn't stop the House to push its own plan.

"Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend all necessary rules to set the following measures as special orders," said State Rep Charlie Geren (R) Fort Worth, as he announced HB 1, HB2 and HJR 1.

The House Tax proposals bills were sent for House Committee review, and then brought to the House Floor. 


In what can be only described as a political act of defiance, Texas House members Tuesday evening, ended their part of the first special session. The House declared Sine die after approving legislation they claim clearly responds to the governors special session call.

The Senate, which went into recess until Friday, will have to accept the House legislation when they return. If not, another special session may be called. 

The Senate took the break Tuesday afternoon because the Lt Governor could not get the Senate Border Bills to a final vote. 

Speaker Phelan issued a statement that read in part:

 "I want to thank Governor Abbott for his leadership and willingness to work with the House as we negotiated on these issues. His special session call gave us clear-cut direction to buy down property taxes using tax compression, and the passage of today’s legislation fulfills that call. The House adjourns sine die having done its part to strengthen our state’s border and provide Texans with the largest state property tax cut in American history."

Tuesday evening Governor Abbott issued a statement endorsing the House Legislation.

"The Texas House is the only chamber that passed a property tax cut bill that is germane to the special session that I called to provide Texans with property tax relief," said Governor Abbott. "It provides more cuts to property tax rates than any other proposal at this time. It is supported by the most respected tax think tank in the state, as well as more than 30 homeowner, consumer, and business groups across the state. I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk."

Another Special Session will still come as no surprise. The governor warned lawmakers to expect other issues to be taken up in multiple Special Sessions later this year.

Patrick had also warned House members of another political pushback. This one at the ballot box for House republicans who don’t agree with him, including Speaker Phelan.

"So I'm glad they love him today. When they go home, they’re primaries, we'll see know if they still love him. But, you know, Dade, Dade is a challenge. But I'm not. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not asking him to be replaced. I'm not asking I'm not asking him to resign. But we just have to be. This should be easy. It’s three Republican leaders. It should be easy. I shouldn't need to take Tylenol three times a day. It should be easy," said Patrick.


Lt Governor Patrick also addressed the other political elephant under the dome. The impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton. Patrick answered only one question about the trial.

"It's been almost 100 years since the last impeachment. So we have to go back and look at the rules. Not much precedent. I mean, there are some, but times have changed 100 years. But beyond that, that's all I can say. I will be presiding over a trial. It will be a fair trial. I'm sure there'll be witnesses. I mean, I don't know what the House will present. I don't know what the attorney general present, but my guess is there will be witnesses, and they will be put under oath, and they will be cross-examined, I'm sure, by both sides. And it will be a regular trial. And at the end of that trial, once the facts have laid out, the senators will vote," said Patrick

The Senate has passed a resolution that the trial needs to happen before August 28.