State Rep. Travis Clardy is calling for Gov. Greg Abbott to summon legislators back to Austin to tackle a response to the coronavirus pandemic and police reform.
Clardy made the announcement Tuesday morning in a conference call with the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce shortly after state Sen. Robert Nichols said to expect a special session next summer so the Legislature can work on redistricting.
“I really do think the input of the Legislature is needed. That’s how Texas is set up,” Clardy said of the state’s COVID-19 response and police reforms. “I think we need to start addressing these now starting into the next session. It’s important that we address them now.”
Police reform has gained national traction in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police this spring.
Clardy joins Republican Sens. Charles Perry of Lubbock and Bob Hall of Edgewood as the latest to call for a special session so lawmakers could have a say in how Texas proceeds with responding to an increasing caseload.
Confirmed cases of the virus have soared across the state, and hospitalization rates and the number of people testing positive for the virus have quadrupled over a two week period.
“It’s not our area of the state that’s testing out so high but we would be next if we don’t take some type of action,” Nichols said.
Clardy and Nichols have publicly supported Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas, but the increased caseload has the governor’s actions on pause with more uncertainty ahead. Democrat Alec Johnson, who will face Clardy in November, has been highly critical of the plan and has said he plans to make a citizen’s arrest on Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick if they “step food inside District 11” on grounds of manslaughter.
“Abbott and Clardy lie about matters that make it much more likely people will die. They put politics in the driver’s seat, where science should be. The results are predictable and were predicted by me over a month ago,” Johnson said in a press release. “Abbott took unnecessary gambles and innocent people lost their lives, all with the support of Travis Clardy.”
Abbott had not said as of Tuesday afternoon whether he would call a special session, but Nichols says lawmakers are assured of one in 2021.
“Now we have been confirmed that we will not get the federal (census) numbers until June. The session will be over then,” Nichols said Tuesday.
Legislators were scheduled to meet this fall to discuss redistricting, but those meetings were canceled since census data will be delayed.
Every 10 years, the Texas Legislature uses census data to redraw district lines for legislators to ensure that all senators and representatives represent an equal number of Texans.