By Bill O’Neil
The Texas Legislature is officially back at the State Capitol in Austin for a 30-day special session.
“I want to mainly just thank you all for being here–and more than anything, I want to thank your families for allowing you to be here” Speaker Joe Straus said after gaveling the Texas House back in to session.
Straus has made it very clear his focus in the early days of the session will be on the renewal of several state boards and agencies that will expire on September 1st unless action is taken.
The start was much less smooth for the Texas Senate, where controversy quickly erupted after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gaveled that chamber in to session. It all began with Democratic Senator Jose Rodriguez attempting to use a parliamentary procedure to delay the discussion on the boards for at least 48 hours.
Patrick quickly overruled the move.
“You put in a tag… Senator (Kelly) Hancock has a right to appeal that tag… and he’s made a motion to vote to suspend the tag” Patrick said.
“Then I motion a point of order Mr. President” Rodriguez responded.
Rodriguez sad the motion was made in order to allow witnesses to get to Austin to testify before the committees that will first take up the future of those panels.
The back and forth drew a flurry of pointed questions from Democrats for both Hancock and the Lieutenant Governor.
“Mr. President… we all have a right to know exactly what’s going on” Senator Sylvia Garcia said, adding “You made arguments that this was all about moving the people’s business forward–but it seems to me we’re trying to move the people’s business forward without the people’s input.”
Other Democrats–including Senator Jose Menendez wondered what’s behind the rush to begin working on the extending the boards.
“It is 30 days” Patrick responded to Menendez when asked how long the special session will last.
“We have that time… so, I don’t understand why we don’t have the time to ask people to come and testify” Menendez said.