BREAKING NEWS: First Special Session Closes. Governor Perry Calls Second Special Session
Midnight of June 25th marked the end of the first called Special Session. The House finally adjourned Sine Die at 6:21PM. In the House’s final days, 4 bills were passed. SB 2, SB 3, and SB 4 were legislation relating to composition of districts for election of members for both the Senate and House. SB 23 addressed punishment for a capital felony committed by an individual younger than 18 years of age. SB 2, 3 and 4 left the house without any changes, making their way to the Governor to sign. SB 23 was sent back to the Senate for final debate. In addition to the House, the Senate also completed their last day on the floor with lots of drama and controversy. SB 5, authored by Senator Hegar and Representative Laubenberg, was brought up with much debate. The bill squeezed out of the House on Monday with a lot of deliberation. SB 5 has certainly divided both chambers. As it made its way to the Senate, Senator Wendy Davis vowed to filibuster the bill as soon as it was brought up and would do so until midnight if necessary to kill the bill. Three bills were scheduled for the calendar, SJR 2 (legislation related to the transfer of funds for transportation), SB 23 (that just passed out of the House dealing with the punishment of an individual under the age of 18) and SB 5 (the abortion bill). By bringing up SB 5 first, SJR 2 and SB 23 in turn both died.
As the debate on SB 5 became more and more heated, the mass of protesters in the Capitol increased and chaos ensued. Senator Davis’ filibuster was thwarted by a final Point of Order called out by Senator Campbell. There was much debate over the rules and the legitimacy of the Point of Order, and in the end a final vote was taken. The Lieutenant Governor was not able to overcome the reality that the vote indeed occurred after the midnight deadline. That vote showed 18 Ayes, 11 Nays and 2 not voting. Governor Perry still has the ability to call an additional Special Session, so it remains to be seen if this is the last showdown.
In related news, the Supreme Court ruled down some of the elements of the Voter Rights Act. No longer will Texas be required to have pre-approval of re-districting maps. Now that this is lifted, the Voter ID rules are back in effect. It is too early to tell how this change of events will affect Texans.
Update: The Governor has called the Legislature back to a 2nd called Special Session to begin July 1st, 2013 to address all remaining issues.