Dewhurst urges redo on conservative legislation in special session


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, May 24 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Lawmakers trickled into the Texas House Friday morning ready for the home stretch. With just days to go, the state's part-time legislature will soon wrap up a busy week and a busy session.

"In these closing hours, we work really late. We work long hours," state Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) said Thursday. Members of both chambers have had their share of late nights at the Capitol this week, and are scheduled to work nonstop through the weekend before the regular session adjourns Monday.

As each day has gone by, there's been more and more talk that lawmakers may have to come back for a special session, but lately that talk has had less to do with lingering concerns over the tenuous budget deal. Many are predicting lawmakers will return to address voting maps which federal judges ruled discriminated against minority voters.

"That decision's obviously going to be made by Governor Perry, but I think all indications are that we will," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-Texas) told KVUE Friday.

Dewhurst says if that happens, he'd also like to try again with campus carry and other conservative legislation that missed the final cut.

"I'd like to see some pro-life bills that we couldn't get passed, and I'd like to see the drug testing for people on welfare," Dewhurst said. "We've got so many complaints in this area. So I'd like to see these and other categories of bills put on the call."

Other initiatives Dewhurst would like to see taken up include a constitutional spending cap limited to inflation and population growth, as well as formally approving the temporary voting maps put in place following the state's unsuccessful court battle over redistricting.

"We passed a number of very good bills out of the Senate that got killed in the House and we've got a number of very conservative bills that we wanted to get out of the Senate," said Dewhurst, who told KVUE News he's feeling optimistic after sharing his concerns with Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on Thursday.

"He's not concerned about what Texas values are," state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) told KVUE. "He's concerned about an extremist right wing agenda that will serve a feather in his cap as he goes forward in a future possible primary election to regain his seat."

Davis argues such an effort would put a damper on a legislative session that has been largely marked by bipartisan cooperation, and worries that Republican leaders are anxious to use the special session to bypass the two-thirds majority required to pass legislation during the regular session.

"I'm very proud of the way Republicans and Democrats have come together this session to reflect the values of people who live in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst's actions threaten to poison that as we go into a special session," said Davis. "He's going to spend hundreds of thousands of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a special session for purposes that serve his interests alone."

Dewhurst argues the issue of redistricting is of critical importance, and state spending, gun laws and abortion warrant a second look.

"If you think that's not important, then I'm sorry but I very seriously disagree with you," Dewhurst responded.

Meanwhile, the business at hand continues as the clock runs down.