This Week in Texas Politics: Gov. Abbott calls for third special session

The Week in Texas Politics is wrapping up with a lot of politicking at the State Fair. The issues this week have been anything but corn dogs and cotton candy. 

FOX 7 Austin’s chief political reporter Rudy Koski takes a look at the week with our panel of reporters from across the state. A longer discussion can be found on the FOX 7 Austin YouTube channel.


RUDY KOSKI: The list came out for the special session with no real surprises. But the week did have some interesting political twists, turns and some backtracking. Right. Let's get to the headlines from our panel, and we'll start first with Patrick Svitek with the Texas Tribune. Patrick, what's your headline?  


RUDY KOSKI: Connie Sweeney with the Highlander. What's your headline?  

CONNIE SWINNEY: Politicians show themselves out in a big way.  

RUDY KOSKI: And Holly Hansen with The Texan News. What's your headline for the week?  

HOLLY HANSEN: All eyes on the Texas legislature and the Next Battle in the GOP Civil War. 

RUDY KOSKI: Now the governor has issued his special session call. Lawmakers will return to Austin with a lot of animosity still remaining from the Paxton impeachment trial. As expected, school choice, education savings accounts topping the list. The border crisis also made it with some added flip-flopping from the Biden administration. Yes, to the wall. No to the wall. But they definitely still want to sink the border buoys. Holly, you wrote about one of the side issues that may be overshadowing the special session that's coming. Lawmakers are still angry with Speaker Phelan, claiming now that the House parliamentarian, a parliamentarian, is helping Democrats control the chamber, want an investigation. So do you think that we're going to see this special session the first days at least, maybe become something like what we saw in Congress with trying to oust him?  

HOLLY HANSEN: I think that's a possibility. There are a couple of members, you know, rattling their sabers about possibly trying to unseat the speaker in the same way they did in the U.S. House. However, it's a slightly more fraught path in the Texas House because of the rules. The speaker has the right to not recognize a member who may be making that motion. Under normal circumstances, ten other members can overrule the speaker on that. But in this case, it will take 76 members of the House to actually overrule the speaker if he chooses not to recognize someone offering that. 

RUDY KOSKI: Speaker Phelan kind of punch back to the lieutenant governor who has been throwing his own punches. Patrick, I can't see how the bad feelings over Speaker Phelan go to the back burner.

PATRICK SVITEK: We'll see. I mean, I think that those tensions are going to you're going to continue to see those tensions rear their head in this special session. You know, obviously, before the impeachment trial, things weren't great between the lieutenant governor and the Speaker. We saw that during their property tax deal battle and the trial really ratcheted up those tensions.  

RUDY KOSKI: Well, the House managers certainly threw more gas on this House fire, dumping more documents from the Paxton impeachment case, Connie, that gamble by the House, the Hill Country Representative Andrew Muir, somewhat of a backlash lately, even from some of their own House managers didn't think that it was appropriate. So what are people saying over there in the Hill Country?  

CONNIE SWINNEY: Rudy, the backlash is gaining steam in Andrew Murr, House District 53. And apparently what's at the core of it is a complaint that he allegedly violated the principles of the Republican Party. So far, Bandera County and Real County took the steps to censure. And for now, closer to home, Llano County and Mason County appear to be holding steady. But if the state officials continue to put the heat on both Andrew Murr and Phelan, you may see that change.  

RUDY KOSKI: The State Fair is underway in Dallas and a lot of political leaders from across Texas are up in Dallas meeting and greeting. But I don't think that they're doing a lot of political fence mending, maybe more some political circling the wagons. Holly, what do you think about that?  

HOLLY HANSEN: Yes. You know, the state fair in these events, they're their big photo ops and be a lot of baby kissing and handshaking there. But, you know, as we've seen this morning, I think Patrick shared that statement from the lieutenant governor taking another shot at the speaker. There's still a civil war brewing within the Republican Party and some big contentiousness within the Democrat Party as well. 


RUDY KOSKI: A lot of corn dogs and excuses, Connie?  

CONNIE SWINNEY: Well, appears that it may put a pause on some of the political heat and maybe folks will be a little more lighthearted, but only temporarily. Perhaps we'll see somebody eating or gobbling up, I guess, a chicken fried steak and some deep-fried snickers. But other than that, they'll be back at it right after the fair is over.  

PATRICK SVITEK: Yeah. And this year, it's more of a pause than usual because, I mean, it's also a big fundraising weekend for a lot of lawmakers who come to the North Texas area because that's where everyone is at, including political donors. But it really is more of a pause than usual because they have this special session coming up. And that special session could go all the way until the candidate filing period opens in early November. It closes in early December. So, you know, this is one of the last opportunities, I think, that these state lawmakers have to fundraise and kind of openly campaign. 

RUDY KOSKI: All right. Let's wrap up this week with one final word, and we'll start with Patrick. Patrick, what's your word for the week?  

PATRICK SVITEK: I realized I jumped the gun and said my final word during the headline of the week. I said Agenda, then my headline would have been, Greg Abbott released the special session agenda.  

RUDY KOSKI: So we'll backdoor that and flip-flop. There's your flip-flop. And Patrick does his own flip-flop. Connie, don't flip-flop. Give me your word.  

CONNIE SWINNEY: I actually like that one flip-flop. You took that from me, Rudy. That was my word.  

RUDY KOSKI: Holly. Holly, wrap us up with a final word.  

HOLLY HANSEN: Tinderbox. 

RUDY KOSKI: And that is enough said for This Week in Texas Politics.