As regular session adjourns, special session on redistricting begins

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 28 at 7:22 AM

AUSTIN -- It's the moment the regular session of the 83rd Texas Legislature comes to an end, capping off five months of often heated debate over how best to run the State of Texas. 
 
"We're ready to get it wrapped up but at the same time it's exciting," said first term state Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park). "You also feel your sense of accomplishment."    
 
"My main objective was to build relationships with other members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and to learn the rules and work my legislation and get it through," explained Dale. "Now we're ready to move on to whatever the next phase may be, whether it's a special session or not."
 
With the day's actual work limited to approving technical corrections to bills that have already been adopted, lawmakers reflected on the business accomplished over the past 140 days of regular session before adjourning sine die early Monday evening. 
 
"We were really successful," said state Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin). "We were able to get the CAPCOG 9-1-1 service district that affects all of Central Texas, and it's a really good thing that we did for Central Texas. It's going to improve 9-1-1 service for our area." 
 
"It was a much more congenial session, and I think we were able to accomplish a lot of things that allowed us to move the state forward," Workman said.
 
"We came in certainly wanting to restore money to education, we got a big amount restored," said state Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). "We came in wanting to address our water infrastructure, we did that. We did not do as well with transportation infrastructure but we got a little bit done there. We have more work to do there." 
 
"I think the decorum, the collegiality of this session really is probably its most noteworthy characteristic," said state Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin). After ten years in the Texas House, this sine die is a special one for Strama, who earlier this year announced he would not be running for reelection. 
 
"People develop bonds and they're real bonds, and so the end of the process is a little bit emotional because of that," Strama told KVUE. "For me it's especially emotional because it's my last day as a member of the legislature." 
 
"We're all sitting on the floor together for these 140 days. We form a lot of bonds with one another," agreed Howard. "Regardless of our political affiliations and ideology, these are like family members."
 
For most, thoughts were already turning to what's next. 
 
"I'll go to sleep," laughed Workman. "We're going to try to get some rest and we'll come back. My assumption is that the governor's going to call a special session and we'll be right back here and doing whatever we need to get done."
 
Sure enough, less than an hour after the House adjourned, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) released a statement announcing a special session to begin Monday evening.
 
"We can all be proud of the responsible steps made this session to invest in our citizens, fund water infrastructure, and build an even stronger foundation for the future of our economy and Texas families," Perry said. “By lowering taxes on job creators, opening the door to more higher education opportunities in South Texas, investing in a skilled workforce and keeping our state government efficient and accountable, hardworking taxpayers have freedom, opportunity and peace of mind."
 
"However, there is still work to be done on behalf of the citizens of Texas," Perry concluded. The statement requests lawmakers to consider "legislation which ratifies and adopts the interim redistricting plans ordered by the federal district court as the permanent plans for districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate and United States House of Representatives."
 
After meeting briefly Monday evening, the Senate recessed until noon Thursday. The Texas House will convene 11:00 a.m. Tuesday in special session to address the governor's request.

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