Tue June 18, 2013
Deadline: Redistricting, Abortion Bills, More Have Week Left at Lege
Seven days remain in the current Texas special legislative session. Lawmakers are not finished debating bills on redistricting, abortion, transportation and criminal justice.
The session was meant to focus on redistricting. Lawmakers are getting close on that. However, bills on abortion and transportation that were filed in the 83rd regular session, and didn’t pass, are still making their way through both houses.
Today, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, restrict abortion-inducing medication and establish minimum standards for facilities that perform the procedure.
State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, sponsored 20-week legislation during the regular session.
"We had some great pro-life bills filed during the regular session and luckily the Governor put them on the call for the special session," Rep. Leach said. "Hopefully it will make it on the House floor this weekend or by the end of the special session."
State Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, is chair of the House Select Redistricting Committee. He said he’s frustrated with the timing.
"We have basically a week to go in the special session – that’s really not enough time to properly vet the issues," Rep. Darby said. "So when you add other issues to the call, such as abortion and criminal justice system, it further complicates the ability of the Legislature to focus and get something done and for that I’m troubled.
The Senate is also expected to vote today on a transportation infrastructure-funding measure. Called SJR 2, it’s a plan to send a portion of oil and gas taxes to the state’s highway fund. This tax money would sit in the Rainy Day Fund and would not finance any transportation projects until the balance reaches at least $6 billion. Rep. Darby questions whether that’s enough.
"If there’s no real dollars I’d wait until the 84th session and I think we’ll have a full-blown crisis in how we fund roads at that time," Rep. Darby said.
Texas legislators passed hundreds of bills in the final days of the regular session, so the precedent of moving quickly exists. Whether there’s a will to get everything passed, remains to be seen. The last day of the special session is Tuesday, June 25.