Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Tuesday, June 22nd (3:00 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 2,538,120 (1,389 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 1,526 (11,517 available beds, 873 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 51,060 (29 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Tuesday, June 22nd (3:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 21,408,420
People vaccinated – 12,515,454
People fully vaccinated – 10,018,879
Total doses administered – 21,724,928
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, June 22nd was 3.23%. One month ago, there were 519 new cases reported, one week ago there were 782 new cases reported, compared to the 1,389 reported yesterday. The 1,526 COVID patients in hospitals now is 96 fewer patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 2.4% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 111,879 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Tuesday, June 22nd 39.6% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Abbott Calls Special Session for Summer
After State Democrats staged a walkout to temporarily block a number of G.O.P. priorities last month, it became clear that Abbott would be forced to call a special session. It was predicted, however, that he would wait to call it until late summer. The special session is set to begin on July 8th. In the proclamation declaring the date for the start of the special session, Abbott did not yet specify which topics would be considered. However, he has made it clear that legislation to revise the state’s election laws will be on the agenda.
It is likely that Texas Republicans will also pursue other legislative goals, likely including an overhaul of the state’s bail system, restrictions on cities hiring lobbyists, limits to transgender athletes from competing in school sports, censorship of social media companies and appropriations to legislative funding. The process to pass these bills will have to start from scratch, however, it is likely that Republicans will begin with the final proposal that failed to pass in May. The initial voting bill, S.B. 7, contained new restrictions on absentee voting; granted broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers; escalated punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County which contains Houston and an increasing number of the state’s Democratic voters. The Legislature is expected to convene again in September or October to focus on the redrawing of the state’s political maps and the doling out of $16 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.
Abbott Vetoes Entire Budget for Legislature in Retaliation for Democrats’ Walkout
On Friday, Governor Abbott followed through on his threat to veto a section of the state budget that funds the Texas Legislature, its staffers and legislative agencies. Abbott initially threatened this after becoming extrememly frusturated by the Democrats’ staged walkout in May intended to block some of his top legislative priorities. Abbott told the press that “funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.” Dissenters argue that Abbott’s action was an “abuse of power” and House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner of Grand Prairie said the caucus “is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back.” Concern has been raised over the potential impact on staffers and legislative agencies that are funded by Article X, which is the section of the budget Abbott vetoed seeing as these workers would be unfairly reprimanded for actions not of their own.
This particular biennial budget covers the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1. Lawmakers may be able to pass a supplemental budget to restore that funding in the special session.
Abbott Vetoed Only 20 Bills
Abbott’s 20 vetoes marks the fewest vetoes in a session since he was elected in 2014. This session, Abbott signed 3,803 bills into law and allowed 1,034 bills to become law without his signature.
Bills can be vetoed for any reason determined by the governor however they are most commonly rejected because they conflict with existing statute, have precedent on previous legislation, or carry potential unintended consequences. One of the more notable bills Abbott rejected was House Bill 686. This bill would have allowed Texas prisoners convicted of first-degree and capitol felonies that were committed when they were younger than 18 to have their cases reevaluated after serving half of their sentence. Among the other vetoes Abbott dealt were bills on Anti-Hazing, a bill to expand Animal Cruelty laws, a bill requiring public schools to provide instruction on Child Abuse Prevention, a bill to voluntarily create habitats for bees, birds and other pollinators in and near solar energy sites, and a bill to toss out hypnotically-induced statements in a criminal trial.
Sid Miller Will Seek Reelection, Not Challenge Abbott
Despite speculation that he could challenge Gov. Greg Abbott for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced Monday that he would be seeking reelection.
“I really have the best and most rewarding job in the world,” Miller said in a statement. “That’s why, after listening to the advice of supporters, friends and my team, I have decided that I can best serve Texas by continuing this important work.”
“Today I am announcing my campaign for reelection as your Texas Agriculture Commissioner,” he said.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform Endorse Eva Guzman for AG
Eva Guzman, the Republican former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, officially began her campaign against battered Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday. She pledges to bring “honor and integrity” back to the office as well as her extensive legal background that could set her apart from another primary candidate, George P. Bush. “I’m just what Texas needs because I have the experience, the proven integrity, the conservative values,” Guzman said in an interview, adding that she has shown she can “put together winning teams” — a reference to her distinction as the highest vote-getter in Texas history at the time of her last statewide race. Yesterday, she received the endorsement of the influential Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group with a track record of endorsing winning candidates.