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The Brief: Texas Senate moving fast on Abbott's special session agenda

The Texas Senate on Monday approved six bills related to Gov. Greg Abbott's 20-item special session agenda — and they're expected to consider another chunk of legislation today.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gaveled out the Senate at 1:24 a.m. on July 20 after the upper chamber approved crucial sunset legislation to keep several state agencies alive.

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What you need to know

The Texas Senate on Monday approved six bills related to Gov. Greg Abbott's 20-item special session agenda — and they're expected to consider another chunk of legislation today. Here's what you need to know: 

A rundown of what the Senate passed yesterday: They approved a couple bills that would increase reporting details and fines about abortion. They greenlit a measure extending the state's maternal mortality task force. They OK'd a bill to study the state's school finance system and another to create a "private school choice" program. And finally, as the sun set, senators backed legislation that would allow for property tax elections in cities and counties across Texas — but only if revenues exceeded 4 percent of what was taken in the year before. All six bills need a final stamp of approval before they can head to the House, which the Senate is expected to do today. 

 Meanwhile, across the rotunda, the House gave initial approval to its first of two sunset bills during a brief meeting on the floor Monday. If you're keeping track, senators have spent more than 11 hours on the Senate floor since July 18 — the first day the special session began — while the House has met for around 3 hours. But hold your horses —state lawmakers still have a few weeks left on the 30-day clock, and Abbott said Monday he has "increased confidence" that the House will "outperform" on his special session agenda.

 You can expect another long day in the upper chamber today, per Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. "I expect tomorrow to be a late night," Patrick told senators as they gaveled out Monday evening, suggesting they all get a "good night's sleep" for the work that lay ahead. The Senate and House are both back in business today at 10 a.m., and the upper chamber still has more high-profile issues on its agenda, such as the "bathroom bill" and more abortion-related legislation

Other stories we're watching today:

• A House committee will consider a second sunset bill that would fund several key state agencies after the lower chamber adjourns for the day. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek for updates. 

Tribune today

• A man who's set to be executed two days from now has tried everything to stop it — including alleging that his previous counsel committed fraud.

• U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold said he would consider challenging the three GOP female senators opposing the Obamacare repeal bill to a duel — if they were men from South Texas

• Remember the Medicaid therapy funding cuts that went into effect in December? Children in Galveston and Hill County will soon be without state-funded speech, occupational and physical therapy services. 

• The man accused of driving the tractor-trailer that led to 10 people dying could face life in prison or the death penalty.

Pencil us in

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What we're reading

Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.

McCain to make dramatic return for Obamacare vote, Politico

House Speaker Joe Straus talks priorities for special session, NBC 5 

Greg Abbott's million dollar donor, Texas Monthly

Why Texas courts will stop 'nickel-and-diming' the poor, The Atlantic 

Waco police arrest 9 in undercover prostitution sting, Waco Tribune-Herald

A Trump tormentor, Houston Rep. Al Green, to introduce legislation to block presidential self-pardons, The Dallas Morning News ($)

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly, The Washington Post ($)

Photo of the day

State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, listened to witnesses during a public hearing on several education bills on July 24. Photo by Bob Daemmrich. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style." 

— U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, on the three female Republican senators opposed to the GOP health care bill

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