Skip to main content

The Brief: As special session enters third week, here's where things stand

As the Texas Legislature kicks off its third week of a special legislative session, let's quickly recap some news you might have missed before delving into what's coming down the pipe at the Texas Capitol.

The Texas Capitol in Austin on June 20, 2017.

Good morning and happy Monday, folks. Thanks for reading The Brief, our daily newsletter informing you on politics, public policy and everything in between. Forward this email to friends who may want to join us. They can sign up here. — CP

What you need to know

As the Texas Legislature kicks off its third week of a special legislative session, let's quickly recap some news you might have missed before delving into what's coming down the pipe at the Texas Capitol. Here's what you need to know:  

The first new border wall segment is slated for this fall. Construction on President Trump's signature campaign promise — a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — will start in November, two months earlier than previously expected, according to a report published jointly Friday between The Texas Tribune and ProPublica. The 3-mile segment will run through a national wildlife refuge in South Texas. The federal agency building it plans to use money it has previously received from Congress. 

• Abbott directed DPS to change its forensic testing plan. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday it was reversing course from an announcement earlier this month to begin charging local agencies for the use of state crime labs after Gov. Greg Abbott asked the agency to retract its previous announcement. A North Texas Sheriff's Facebook post may have played a key role in prompting the reversal, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy.

And it's back to #txlege today, where both chambers are set to meet at 2 p.m. Four maternal mortality bills are on the House calendar — including House Bill 9, the measure Abbott's office has listed as among those it's closely watching. The Senate is expected to debate a bill to place a cap on how much local spending can grow after they postponed the legislation last week. 

• The House and Senate still have items on their to-do lists. The Senate shot out most of Abbott's special session agenda last week, but they still have a few of his priorities on their plate — such as that local spending cap bill. The House is going at a slower pace. While a committee on Friday voted out a bill to curb the rate at which local governments can raise property tax rates, one of Abbott's top priorities, the lower chamber still hasn't moved other high-profile issues, including education-related legislation and the "bathroom bill." Speaking of, state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, and state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, are talking about bathroom policies and politics at 8 this morning with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. Join us in person or watch the livestream here.

Tribune today

• From Ross Ramsey: The special legislative session could turn out like a soccer tournament for 5-year-olds: No matter what happens, everybody gets a trophy. 

• The debate over bathroom regulations for transgender Texans has showcased the complex process people face in changing their birth certificates. 

• A couple of Texas congressmen have raised eyebrows with a letter they wrote to the U.S. Treasury Department alleging Russia was funding certain American environmental groups. 

• U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he "totally support[s]" President Trump's move to ban transgender people from serving in the military. 

• Despite the support of Texas' two U.S. Senators an effort to overhaul Obamacare was narrowly defeated in the U.S. Senate. 

Pencil us in

Register for the 2017 Texas Tribune Festival! Join us for three days of the best conversations in politics and public policy, Sept. 22-24. Register here.

What we're reading

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

As Trump steams, Senate Republicans consider new repeal effort, Politico

Former Republican railroad commissioner: Bathroom bill harms teens and Republicans, Texas Monthly

Defense Department accidentally gives away military-grade equipment to fake cops, Laredo Morning Times 

The abortion divide, San Antonio Express-News ($)

She saved her choking student. The state tried to revoke her license., The Austin American-Statesman ($)

Migrants seeking better life caught in decades-long cycle, The Houston Chronicle ($)

Feds again slap Dallas for housing blunders, leaving low-income homebuyers in limboThe Dallas Morning News ($)

Photo of the day

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry spoke to the press after touring the Daikin Texas Technology Park in the city of Waller on July 28. Photo by Austin Price. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"Nobody wakes up one day... and changes their sex.” 

— Claire Bow, an Austin-area attorney who helps transgender people obtain updated documents, about the complex process for individuals in changing their birth certificates.

Feedback? Questions? Email us at As always, thanks for choosing The Brief — if you liked what you read today, become a member or make a donation here

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Yes, I'll donate today

Explore related story topics