Governor Declares Emergency Issues for Legislative Session

Texas lawmakers are officially on the job for the 82nd legislative session. The Texas House and Senate convened today — swearing in the largest number of freshmen house members in Texas in nearly 40 years. As Laurie Johnson reports — Governor Rick Perry declared two emergency issues as priorities for the session.

The Texas House and Senate launched the 82nd session in what was largely a ceremonial event filled with family members and guests.

In the Senate, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst opened the session with a moment of silence.

"Members, ladies and gentlemen, I think it's fitting if we pause for a moment, for a moment of silence and remember the victims over in Tuscon this past Saturday."

It was a somber moment in an otherwise celebratory day at the capitol. Dewhurst welcomed Governor Rick Perry to the platform to address the senate. Perry told lawmakers the top priority is balancing the budget. But he says there are other pressing issues that need to be addressed.

"That's why I'm declaring emergency items for the upcoming session, starting with the pressing need for tougher eminent domain laws. Property ownership remains an essential freedom for Texans and we must continue our efforts to properly protect it. Next, we must abolish sanctuary cities in Texas."

Perry says tackling the state's problems will not be easy and he anticipates disagreements over the course of the session. But he says the legislature has navigated similar challenges in the past. Meanwhile, state representatives elected Republican Joe Strauss to a second term as speaker of the house.

Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses the Senate at the start of the 82nd Legislature at the Texas State Capitol on January 11th, 2011

Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses the Senate at the start of the 82nd Legislature at the Texas State Capitol on January 11th, 2011. Image courtesy of the Governor's Office.
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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...