AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — Gov. Greg Abbott kicked off bill-signing season on Tuesday, with his first new bill of the 2017 legislative session.
Abbott signed House Bill 89, which prohibits state contracts and investments with companies that boycott Israel.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Texas is now the 20th state with such a law. HB 89 passed unanimously in the House in April, and all but five senators in the upper chamber voted in favor of it.
“The reason why we are even able to be here today is because of tremendous leadership in both the House and the Senate,” Abbott said. “And now we have a signed piece of legislation.”
This is the first bill to officially clear all hurdles, but there are still quite a few more left that have a long way to go before reaching the governor’s desk.
“As of right now there have been about 9,500 total pieces of legislation introduced,” Jim Henson with the Texas Politics Project said, “And that includes memorial resolutions and things like that.”
Henson says only about 20 percent of those will actually pass. Last legislative session there were 6,200 bills filed in the House and Senate, and only 1,300 of those bills passed.
“It moved a bit slowly this time, but not incredibly so. But certainly there has been a very deliberate pace this time that has to do with maneuvering between the two chambers,” Henson said. “When there are substantive differences between the house and the senate, things slow down because there is a little bit of a chess game going on as the leadership on both sides are trying to hold back and to bargain as we get through the process.”
If lawmakers are unable to get the job done, Gov. Abbott could call for a “special session”. That would give lawmakers another 30 days to keep pushing bills out of the chambers and onto the Governor’s desk.
Henson says the only thing lawmakers have to do over the next month is come up with a state budget. Right now both budget bills are in conference. If a budget is not decided by the end of May, there will be a mandatory “special session.”