The Brief: Top Texas News for May 24, 2013

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a charter school rally.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a charter school rally.

The Big Conversation

The legislative session adjourns Monday, but if Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gets his way, lawmakers may have to stick around.

Though legislators have been told to expect special sessions on redistricting and school finance, Dewhurst told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday that Gov. Rick Perry should call lawmakers back quickly to pass several other conservative-backed bills that have stumbled in the regular session.

In addition to redistricting, Dewhurst said lawmakers should return to take up measures on abortion, school choice, guns on college campuses, drug testing for welfare recipients, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the state's constitutional spending cap.

Coming off a bruising loss to Ted Cruz in a U.S. Senate primary last year in which he was tarred as a moderate, Dewhurst in January promised a bold conservative agenda for the session. But on Thursday he bemoaned Democrats' success in derailing several Republican-backed bills, like the drug testing measure, which collapsed this week.

 

"I'm mad at the partisanship that blocked these bills, and I'm particularly mad at some of the things that happened over in the House," he told the Star-Telegram's Dave Montgomery. "But at the end of the day, I think that everybody's here trying to do the best they can." 

Though Perry threatened a special session if lawmakers failed to send him a budget that contained $2 billion in water infrastructure funding and $1.8 billion in tax relief, he has so far stayed quiet about calling for overtime on other issues. Perry's office said on Thursday that the governor would not make any announcements until the regular session concludes.

But Dewhurst said he had urged Perry on Wednesday to call lawmakers back. "I think he's seriously considering doing that," Dewhurst said.

The lieutenant governor also touched on his political future, telling the Star-Telegram that he would run for re-election next year — whether Perry seeks a fourth term or not.

Culled

•    A Possible Deal on Testing, Charter School Bills (The Texas Tribune): "After two days of deliberations that culminated Thursday evening with a closed-door meeting with Capitol lobbyists and staff from the governor's office, it appears leaders in the House and Senate have reached a deal on two high-priority education bills."

•    Some Limits on UT System Regents Remain in Budget (The Texas Tribune): "Altered versions of amendments attached to the budget in the House specifically limiting the authority of the University of Texas System regents survived the conference committee process and remain in the final report on Senate Bill 1."

•    Dewhurst kills bill that would’ve shifted power on tech grants (Austin American-Statesman): "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has killed a bill that would have stripped him, Gov. Rick Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus of the power to award certain Emerging Technology Fund grants, the sponsors of the legislation confirmed Thursday. Dewhurst did not allow the Texas Senate to vote on House Bill 3162 after he removed it from the Senate calendar, said state Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, who authored the bill that he said would 'take the politics out of the process.'"

•    Boy Scouts delegates vote to lift ban on openly gay youths (The Dallas Morning News): "The Boy Scouts of America’s national council, adults attired in their distinctive khaki uniforms and colorful neckerchiefs, voted Thursday to lift a ban on openly gay Scouts. The historic resolution passed with 61 percent of BSA’s more than 1,400 delegates voting in favor during proceedings at the Gaylord Texan hotel."

•    Higher emissions linked to coal-fired power plants in Texas and other states (Houston Chronicle): "After years of declining greenhouse gas emissions, Texas and other states reported sharply higher levels of carbon dioxide in 2012 as electric generating plants began to use more coal when natural gas prices began to rise, according to a study released Thursday."

Quote of the Day: "While I will always cherish my time as a scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision." — Gov. Rick Perry in a statement responding to the Boy Scouts of America's decision on Thursday to admit openly gay scouts

Must-Read

 

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