Here’s your special session agenda

They call this “red meat”, but it’s really just bullshit.

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the agenda for the special legislative session that begins Thursday, asking lawmakers to prioritize 11 issues that largely appeal to conservatives who wanted more out of the regular session.

The announcement of the agenda came just over 24 hours before lawmakers are set to reconvene in Austin.

The agenda includes Abbott’s priority bills related to overhauling Texas elections and the bail system, as well as pushing back against social media “censorship” of Texans and the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Those issues were anticipated after they did not pass during the regular session and Abbott faced pressure to revive them or had already committed to bringing them back.


The special session agenda also includes funding for the legislative branch, which Abbott vetoed last month. He did so after House Democrats staged a walkout in the final hours of the regular session that killed the priority elections bill. The inclusion of the legislative funding raises the possibility that lawmakers could restore paychecks for their staff — and other staff at the Capitol — before the next fiscal year begins on Sept. 1. More than 2,000 staffers are affected by the veto of the Legislative funding, which Democrats have called an executive overreach of power.

Late last month, House Democrats and legislative staffers asked the state Supreme Court to override it. The court had not ruled in the case yet.

The Democrats’ walkout prompted a flood of national attention, and now the minority members must decide how to try to derail it in the special session with their staff pay on the line. Republicans also have their work cut out for them in the special session, faced with preventing another embarrassing defeat of the elections bill and remedying two provisions they claimed after the regular session were mistakes.

The special session is set to start at 10 a.m. Thursday and could last up to 30 days, with the potential for Abbott to add more items as it proceeds. It is one of at least two special sessions expected this year, with a fall special session coming to address redistricting and the spending of billions of dollars of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Abbott’s agenda for the first special session notably does not include anything about the state’s electric grid, which was exposed as deeply vulnerable during a deadly winter weather storm in February that left millions of Texans without power. Lawmakers made some progress in preventing another disaster during the regular session, but experts — as well as Patrick — have said there is more to do. Last month, calls for the Legislature to take further action to fix the power grid were renewed when grid officials asked Texans to conserve energy.

Despite Abbott’s recent claim that grid is better than ever, he sent a letter Tuesday to the state’s electricity regulators outlining a number of steps he would like them to take to “improve electric reliability.” But it appears Abbott does not want to reopen legislative debate on the issue for now.

Just to recap, I continue to expect the Supreme Court to delay and hope the legislative budget veto issue becomes moot. I don’t think there’s much if anything that Democratic legislators can do to stop any of these bills if Republicans are determined to pass them – it’s not out of the question that on some of them the Republicans are not sufficiently unified – so the best thing to do is to try to at least make sure everything has a real committee hearing first. Finally, I’m not surprised that Abbott has no interest in revisiting the power grid, not when he’s already staked his claim on everything being just fine now. The other piece of business for the Dems is to hammer this point over and over again, until it seeps into the public consciousness. Good luck, y’all. This is going to suck. The Chron has more.

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13 Responses to Here’s your special session agenda

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    At first glance, I’m not happy that electric grid reliability is not on the agenda. Having said that, it seems like Abbott, via the PUC and ERCOT, already HAS the power to ensure we don’t suffer blackouts like February again.

    What he SHOULD be doing is being transparent. IIRC, he fired the folks that screwed us all over by spiking the wholesale power price. Good start, but what are the plans going forward? Abbott could be proactive and negate a huge campaign issue that will be used against him in the primary if he would let us all in on the regulation changes, if any, his appointees are making to make sure this never happens again ™.

    I do like that we’re at least talking about having the less dependable wind and solar generators having to bear some of the cost for the required backup fossil fuel plant costs. It’s not really fair for ERCOT to tell wind and solar, “hey, whatever you’ve got, whenever you’ve got it, we’ll buy it at full price,” while on the other hand calling up the other generators and telling them to throttle back their production because wind and solar are having a good day.

    Why should nuke, gas and coal electric producers have to sit at the back of the bus on this? They shouldn’t. That’s an ancillary issue, though. I want to know what the new folks at the PUC and ERCOT are doing, regulation wise, to make sure we don’t have more blackouts.

    They already did the easiest and perhaps most consequential thing that will help, denoting natural gas production and pipeline installations as critical, so the juice isn’t cut off to the folks providing the raw materials for the electricity. I wonder how much less suffering there would have been in February had that one simple thing already been implemented.

    As to the rest, mixed bag. It’s really sad we need to pass a law preventing Marxist, racist indoctrination from being pushed on our kids, but, well, here we are. We need to pass that law, as does every other state not currently controlled by Marxists.

  2. Bill Daniels says:


    With regard to banning of CRT, I hope they put some teeth in the law, including criminal penalties. If they catch a teacher or administrator trying to indoctrinate kids with racism, that should necessitate firing, yes, but there should also be criminal penalties….a fine and some jail time, just like any other form of child abuse.

  3. Joel says:

    “If they catch a teacher or administrator trying to indoctrinate kids with racism, that should necessitate firing, yes, but there should also be criminal penalties….a fine and some jail time, just like any other form of child abuse.”

    this standard would require entire populations of some parts of texas to be imprisoned.

  4. policywonqueria says:


    Oil & Gas Governor Abbott wants to rig the PUC/ERCOT-run market to punish wind and solar energy providers for generating cheap, and therefore highly competitive, energy. What happened to the celebration of the free market forces all of a sudden? Why are Abbott & Co. now picking winners and losers and shifting costs from one industry to another? Isn’t that what the baddie Socialists and Statists do?

    And where do you get the idea that ERCOT is throttling gas-fired plants, Bill Daniels?

    In the most recent episode, ERCOT once more professed ignorance (i.e., we-know-not) when the thermals reduced output for reasons supposedly unknown. There is no indication that ERCOT told them to cut generation by 50% so the wholesale price would rise to the collective joy of the sellers. Much rather, they feigned surprise. Not to mention that AG Paxton ruled that ERCOT didn’t have to release records under the Public Information Act (PIA).


    It’s supposedly not fair to use the sun energy received daily and turned into electricity directly, as opposed to paying dearly for using sun energy that was transmuted into oil and gas from organic matter millions of years ago, and must be brought up with much effort and expense from below. Oil & Gas must be protected from competition by energy that is abundant and free and can be harvested more and more efficiently thanks to advances in research and technology. What happened to the concept of market efficiency?

    Sun energy that can increasingly be stored at lower cost, too, so as to even out demand-supply imbalances, thereby addressing the intermittency issue.

    Why doesn’t Governor Abbott just order the sun to stop shining to safeguard the primacy of that which lies below? Plunging us into the dark would kill off solar power, wouldn’t it?

    That is, of course, an absurd proposition, but so is fighting the windmills and the solar installations. Just a matter of degree.

    Meanwhile, more enlightened minds are brightening the future with technological advances on the solar and energy storage front:


    See Tina Casey, Red Hot Perovskite Solar Cell Field Just Got Way Redder & Hotter: A new perovskite solar cell venture is proof that legacy energy stakeholders can pivot to renewables — if they really want to. CleanTechnica (July 5, 2021).

    A perovskite is any material with a crystal structure similar to the mineral called perovskite, which consists of calcium titanium oxide. The mineral was first discovered in the Ural mountains of Russia by Gustav Rose in 1839 and named after Russian mineralogist L. A. Perovski. (Wikipedia)

    There is a Bloomberg story on this too, but it is paywalled:

    Dan Murtaugh, Solar Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful: After focusing for decades on cutting costs, the solar industry is shifting attention to making new advances in technology. BLOOMBERG (July 5, 2021).

    THE TAKEWAY: The solar industry has spent decades slashing the cost of generating electricity direct from the sun. Now it’s focusing on making panels even more powerful.

    The Dinosaurs are doom. The sun keeps shining.

  5. While I consider myself a moderate Democrat, I have been very disappointed in our Democratic Harris County Criminal District Judges. Let’s hope Republicans and Democrats come together to pass felony bail bond reform so we can stop the turnstile currently spinning away at the Harris County Jail. With local judges repeatedly releasing violent felony defendants on multiple bail bonds, it’s no wonder our crime rate is soaring. Enough is enough. For more information, please see my post on the link below.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    I agree, but we probably have different people in mind to be arrested!

    On a personal note, can I just add that when I went through school, I had no idea what my teachers’ political leanings were, and that worked out pretty well for everyone. I don’t see why we can’t just do that again, vs. trying to start a race war and teaching kids to hate their own country, themselves, and each other. There was no racial division being spewed when I went to school. Your experience was probably similar, since most of Kuff’s readership seems to be similar in age and ethnic demographic.


    Here’s the problem you conveniently overlooked. Electricity generators and buyers contract to trade set amounts of electricity. So if I contract with a solar producer for X amount of production today, Thursday the 8th, and it’s a rainy, cloudy day and I don’t get the energy I contracted for, I still have customers that need electricity, so, what to do? Oh, I have to find someone who IS generating electricity today to provide what the solar/wind company promised, but didn’t deliver. Who should be on the hook for the extra cost incurred because the solar/wind company didn’t fulfill their contract for delivery?

    You keep talking about large scale battery storage/lava, or other fun to think about ways of energy storage, but it’s not here yet. Here today, we have nuke, gas, and coal that have to step in when the Sun doesn’t shine. I’m a good capitalist. If I can buy a solar/battery system and come out cheaper than buying electricity from my REP, heck yeah I’m going to do that, not because I’m an environmental hero (I’m not), but because I want the product I am consuming at a lower price.

    As to throttling production, how do you think the load on the grid is balanced? It necessarily cannot be a free for all where all producers throw as much as they can on the grid. Without an equal amount of use, that would be problematic.

    We’re gleefully told, on ‘good’ days, wind furnishes a quarter of Texas’ power. Great! What about the not so good days? Somebody with a gas, nuke, or coal plant had to work harder to pick up the slack.

    If you have a source that indicates that power generators aren’t throttled and can all run wide open as much as they want, I’d like to see that link.

  7. Ross says:

    Bill, you do realize, don’t you, that wind and solar can be started and stopped very quickly. Gas plants take 6 to 12 hours to start, coal more like 24. That’s why it’s good to have wind and solar, no cost when they are waiting. For gas and coal peaking, you have to keep them running to be available when demand spikes. Wind in Texas is pretty much set up to handle increased demand in Summer. Which is also when the wind blows the most.

    Another advantage of wind is it doesn’t spew air pollution when generating electricity. I’m ignoring the co2 that fossil fuel plants generate, the particulate, mercury, and suffer compounds are the main culprits.

  8. Bill Daniels says:


    I’m not against wind and solar, I take the all of the above approach to energy. I want all forms slugging it out to bring me low cost power. I also recognize solar has some advantages in the Summer when energy usage is peaking….if we can build solar, like the Sunnyside project, in lieu of building a coal, gas, or nuke plant, I’m good with that.

    I just want all forms of energy to be treated equally in the marketplace, and that’s not currently happening. Wind and solar are the affirmative action kids in the energy market. They should have to pull their own weight just like everyone else.

  9. policywonqueria says:

    Bill: ERCOT doesn’t tell the power generators to run or not run. Instead, the market participants on the generation side get to decide for themselves what to do, and at what price level, which depends in part on their operating costs.

    The price is set by supply (offer) and demand (need) in the wholesale market administered by ERCOT or negotiated and fixed by contract in private transactions. In the wholesale (real-time) market it’s like an auction. When the wind blows briskly, the wind power is very competitive (can be offered cheap) because there is no fuel cost. Nor do they have to worry about fuel cost variation and associated planning risk (as there is with unregulated price of natural gas, not to mention interruptible contracts and declaration of force majeure). Wind power producers are dependent on wind alright, but not on whether upstream suppiers are reliable and meet their contractual obligations.

    As for contracted-for deliveries, if the seller doesn’t perform/deliver, the seller is financially on the hook for the replacement cost for contracted-for electricity from another source. And that can be expensive if it has to be procured from the real-time wholesale market. This operates as a stiff penalty because the replacement cost can be much much higher than the contracted-for price. Up to the market cap of $9,000 per MWh as we have seen.

    I am no expert on this, and there is much more to the “market structure” and the associated dynamics, including the day-ahead market and ancillary services, not to mention protocols for emergency situations, so if anyone with the requisite expertise is willing to elaborate or correct any errors, it will be appreciated.


    Ross makes a good point that is often igonored: The pollution effects (even ignoring the CO2 output) is an externality that’s not automatically reflected in the cost/price, and in a cost/price comparison of conventional thermal power generation vs wind/solar. The latter doesn’t generate exhaust.

    Whether and to what extent that “cost” in the broader sense of the term (damage to humans) is socialised is a question of public policy/regulation. Another way to put it: If government allows coal and other thermal plants to burn and pollute with abandon, the laissez-faire policy amounts to a favoritism (or an indirect subsidy) for the thermal power industry because the industry doesn’t have to pay for the cancer treatment, lost income, and death benefits of the people killed by the emissions. It’s one argument in favor of “discriminating” in favor of clean energy as a matter of public policy in furtherance of the public interest. And it’s separate from the CO2 emission and climate change dynamic.

  10. Ross says:

    Coal and gas do not pull their own weight. If they did, then coal plants would have scrubbers to capture the mercury and small particulates. Gas too, since it frequently has non-co2 output. Same thing with road vehicles, where the gas tax needs to go up to about $2 per gallon. Oil and gas wells should be paying $1 to $2 per barrel equivalent in cash to the state to cover abandonment costs.

    Basically Bill, you, and the rest of us, need to start paying the full costs of our energy use, rather than foisting it on future generations.

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    The holocaust from our feathered friends being Ginsu chopped by windmills and from being immolated and fried by industrial size solar banks is an externality that’s not automatically reflected in the cost/price either. Many of those birds are migratory, some have protected status as well. Rachael Carson might ask, what cost, dead birds?

    Having said that, the pollution-leads-to-illness argument is a good one, and a fair argument to make in favor of wind and solar. I can’t argue that, other than to point out that low and stable energy prices make our First World lifestyle possible. I’ll also point out that pollution from the rest of the world impacts us, no matter how environmentally friendly the US is or becomes.

    [warning: redneck euphemism ahead]

    Cutting our nuts off while the rest of the world swaggers around freeballin’ isn’t really going to help us at all.

  12. Bill Daniels says:


    Producers already kick into a fund to plug “orphan” wells that aren’t producing anymore. Could we talk about increasing the tax on producers to make sure taxpayers aren’t on the hook for any of the cost of dealing with the abandoned wells of defunct operators? Yes. I think that’s a reasonable point, worthy of discussion and negotiation.

    Of course, you’ve got to keep in mind that everything you do to make domestic production more expensive and more regulated pushes production overseas where those same costs and regulations don’t occur. This leads to lost jobs, lost tax revenue, and to us being dependent on foreign oil, often times, from countries that hate us, and the real cost of that is, having a huge military all over the globe to make sure we can get the imported oil we need. That’s an externality that often times gets overlooked.

  13. policywonqueria says:

    Bill, birds also crash into skyscrapers and other man-made structures protruding from the Earth’s surface, but there are ways to address that problem too.


    Back in 2003 […] researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggested that simply applying different colors and patterns to wind turbine blades could make a difference. That formed the basis for a long term study that recently demonstrated a significant reduction in risk of collision, especially for raptors.

    The US Fish And Wildlife Service’s Avian Radar Project indicates that adjustments to wind turbine locations, hours of operation, and lighting can also reduce risks. Automatic shutdown systems triggered by cameras and other remote devices can help, and researchers are beginning to study how today’s generation of larger, more powerful turbines is also contributing to risk reduction.

    SOURCE: Tina Casey, New Recycling & Energy Storage Plan Claps Back At Wind Turbine Critics. CLEAN TECHNICA (July 11, 2021).

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