Flurry of bills clear deadline as Texas House ends busy week

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 6:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Another day, another deadline dash as the Texas House of Representatives races to get bills out of the chamber before time runs out. After working up to the midnight deadline for most House bills to clear second reading Thursday night, lawmakers were back to work Friday morning under a new deadline.

"All House bills that are not heard on third reading today turn into pumpkins and they are no longer viable," said state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston).
 
House members gave the green light to more than a hundred bills Friday before adjourning shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon.
 
On the last day for most House bills to clear third reading, members sent to the Senate a bill to ban soft drinks from sale on public school campuses as well as a bill banning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for spying. The House also passed HB 2625 by Coleman, requiring most new health insurance plans to cover treatment for anorexia and bulimia. 
 
"It feels good because I care about the young ladies and their families who have no way to afford treatment," said Coleman, who spent 16 years advocating legislation to provide coverage for eating disorders before his breakthrough this session.
 
Meanwhile, rumblings continued Friday over whether Gov. Rick Perry will call a special session if water, transportation and tax relief priorities aren't adequately met. Just how serious that threat is depends on who you ask.
 
"There's a broad consensus, especially among Democrats, that we can fund $2 billion for water, $2 billion for transportation and $2 billion for public education to restore the cuts of last session," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas). "Unfortunately our friends on the other side of the aisle and especially the governor has drawn a line in the sand and said no more money for public education."
 
"There's no reason for us to have a special session on any of these issues," Anchia said. "We can get it done now, but the governor has boxed his caucus in and unfortunately I'm afraid that they don't have any room to operate."
 
"I think it's way too early. I think we're a week away from getting concerned," said state Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton).
 
A member of the conference committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate budgets, Otto told KVUE Friday there are still ways to solve the big disputes before it's too late.
 
"I tend to think more that there's going to be a plan that's going to be reached and agreed to here, probably sometime before we leave to go home this weekend or maybe over the weekend," Otto said. "Then the conference's committees will get back in earnest once everybody understands what the plan is."
 
As the work to avoid a special session continues, the clock is ticking.

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