Back to Work: Lawmakers Begin Special Session Today
by: Jack Williams, June 30, 2009 11:06:38 pm
Lawmakers are expected to get to work at about 10 o'clock today in what could be a special session that lasts just a couple of days. The agenda includes the future of five state agencies set to expire next year under the state's sunset laws, agencies like Tx-Dot and the Texas Department of Insurance. The other issues involve highway bonds and allowing public-private transportation projects to go forward. State Senator Mario Gallegos of Houston says despite the upcoming holiday, he's ready to work .
"I think my colleagues are ready, ready for this. You say in and out, you know, that's easy for me to say, in and out, because the July 4th weekend is coming up, but that's not the issue. The issue is these issues that are important to Texans. That's why they voted us in. We're going into this session here on the July 4th weekend and it doesn't matter to me. That's what they elected me for. If we have to take extra time to settle these issues, then we'll do it, if it has to be on the 4th of July."
The issues on the agenda are considered non-partisan and for the most part simple house-keeping for lawmakers who didn't have time to address the issues during the regular session. Houston State Representative Ellen Cohen says she'll take her time this week.
"I know that I and so many of my other colleagues really take our responsibility seriously and so as far as I'm concerned I'm going to study everything I can. If I'm not comfortable, I'm going to get the answers where I need to. When I finally make a vote, I expect to know what I'm talking about and if it's by this Friday, okay, and if we need more time, then we're going to need more time."
Under state law, a special session can't last more than 30 days. Jessica Farrar is a state representative from Houston. She says despite the light agenda, it's important lawmakers take the session seriously.
"From what I talk to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, they'd like to be out of there as soon as possible. It is important that we be deliberative though in the process. Those agreements that we are making on the building of roads are really critical and it's very important that we look at the details of how those are worked out."
Governor Perry has been urged to include other issues on the agenda, things like expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program. but so far he's said no, although he could change his mind once the session gets underway.