Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:

 

1on1 with Gov. Abbott:

Gov. Abbott told our Karina Kling that “believe it or not,” he thinks a lot will be passed in the special session. The governor has opened up the call for lawmakers to tackle 20 items he chose. He thinks both chambers are moving at a good pace.

“If you look at the pace of both the House and the Senate, and they are moving very rapidly looks like. The members of both chambers are treating this seriously, very aggressively. I think they really want to take care of business,” Abbott said.

He also thinks things will be different this time around on vouchers because it focuses solely on special needs children.

When it comes to calling lawmakers back for extra innings, here’s what the Governor had to say:

 

“Listen, we’re just starting. Can’t be talking as if the game is over. No UT Longhorn starts thinking about what’s going to happen next season before this season even begins.”

 

Watch the full interview with Gov. Abbott, including his take on bathroom legislation, vouchers, school finance reform and his ‘list’ at 7pm.

 

School Finance Reform:

Gov. Abbott also added school finance and increases to retired teacher benefits to the call early this morning.

This is widely seen as a nod to the House, where school finance legislation passed during the regular session. That bill died after the Senate tacked on a school voucher provision for students with special needs.

Several lawmakers filed school finance bills once the expanded call was announced. The proposals aim to send more state money to Texas schools.

Education advocates say the Governor’s move to tackle these items during the special session sends the message that he’s serious about improving education in Texas and improving the lives of educators.

They also say taking on school finance reform could be key to solving a separate item on the special session agenda.

“If lawmakers are serious about addressing rising local property taxes, school finance has to be the first place we look to fix that issue,” Mark Wiggins with the Association of Texas Professional Educators said.

Coming up at 7, hear from retired teachers on the possibility of increased benefits.

 

Abortion Rights Groups Sue Texas Again:

The state is once again being sued over abortion — one year after its loss at the nation’s highest court.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit today over a new ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure…known as dilation and evacuation.

They’re asking a federal judge in Austin to block the new law — which goes into effect September first.

Similar laws are in effect in Mississippi and West Virginia — but have been blocked by court rulings in four other states.

The lawsuit comes one year after the US Supreme Court struck down Texas’ sweeping anti-abortion measures that prompted more than half of the states abortion clinics to close.

 

Property Tax Reform Panel:

Lawmakers are readying for another debate over property tax reforms during the special session. Specifically, whether to block cities and counties from raising the average tax rate above four percent unless voters agree to it.

Currently, it’s at 8 percent.

Our panel with the Texas Municipal League’s Bennett Sandlin and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Robert Henneke will discuss their opposition and support of such legislation.