Dewhurst asks Perry for special session


Associated Press

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 28 at 8:32 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Monday urged Gov. Rick Perry to call lawmakers back into special session and include new abortion limits, gun bills, school choice and other key conservative issues on the agenda.

And if a special session is called, Dewhurst says he plans to abandon traditional Senate voting rules to allow majority Republicans to muscle them through the over likely objections from Democrats.

"I see no other alternative than to operate under a simple majority vote in the Special Session," Dewhurst wrote in a letter to Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus outlining his plan.

Dewhurst gave a copy of the letter to The Associated Press.

Lawmakers are set to adjourn their 140-day regular session Monday, but lawmakers expect Perry to call them back for another 30 days. Most expect Perry to initially set an agenda for lawmakers to approve state voting maps that have been under a court challenge since 2011.

As governor, Perry sets the agenda for a special session and can add items at any time. Dewhurst is pushing Perry to tack on a host of social, education, gun and financial issues.

"The Legislature was unable to pass a number of important bills intended to protect and expand the freedom of Texans and cut the size and scope of government," Dewhurst wrote.

The letter will raise concerns from Democrats, who are outnumbered 19-11 count in the Senate, but hold just enough sway to block votes in the chamber. Traditionally, the Senate operates under a two-thirds rule that means a bill needs 21 votes to come up for debate. The rule is designed to build consensus but has frustrated Republicans in recent years when Democrats were able to block key bills.

But the rule doesn't automatically apply in a special session. Without it, Senate Democrats stand to be outnumbered on most of the bills Dewhurst wants to pass.

Sen. Kirk Watson, leader of the Senate Democrats, said Dewhurst is trying to appeal only to hard-right conservatives.

"This should be about more than a Republican primary," Watson said. "Apparently to him, consensus means getting his way."

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