The Brief: Top Texas News for June 14, 2013

The Big Conversation

Lawmakers' special session to-do list grew fourfold this week, but according to Gov. Rick Perry, it's not getting any bigger.

Though Perry this week added transportation funding, abortion restrictions and juvenile criminal sentencing to a special session agenda that had so far only included redistricting, the governor said Thursday that time has run out to add any additional items.

"I think everything has been added to the call that can be added to the call," Perry told reporters after signing a religious-holiday expression bill on Thursday. "I guess we could add a lot of things to the call, but the fact is the House is out until Monday. I think from a practical standpoint those last issues that we put on the call are the last practical things that can be done."

Perry's announcement spelled the death of several measures lawmakers had been pushing him to add to the special session agenda, like campus construction funding and gun rights expansions.

 

With the Sunday veto deadline approaching, Perry also addressed his threat to zero out state funding for the state's Public Integrity Unit if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, the embattled Democrat who leads the unit, does not resign.  

"I will suggest to you if that line item were to be removed, then Travis County would have to prioritize whether they think those cases are important enough to go forward with or some other cases, so that would be their call,” Perry said.

As for redistricting, the Senate plans to vote on maps today, meaning the issue could be wrapped up as soon as the beginning of next week.

Culled

•    Drama Erupts as Senate Panel Takes Up Abortion Measures (The Texas Tribune): "Impassioned testimony and heated exchanges between senators marked the first hearing on abortion measures of the special session."

•    White House, FEMA stand firm on denying West major disaster aid (The Dallas Morning News): "The White House and FEMA stood by a denial of major disaster aid for West, the Texas town rocked by a fertilizer explosion, as Gov. Rick Perry tried Thursday to shame the president into relenting. 'I was on the stage when the president looked into the eyes of the people of West, Texas, and said we’re going to do everything we can to make sure you are taken care of,' Perry told reporters at the state Capitol. 'This doesn’t square with that.'"

•    Lt. Gov. Dewhurst talks Ted Cruz, appealing to Tea Party voters (WFAA-TV): "Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst suggested messaging may be the reason why he's not as popular with Tea Party voters as other conservative candidates in the state. Still, the veteran Republican reiterated his credentials are as solid as anyone else's in the GOP. 'We had a July 31 runoff in which we had a hard time finding our voters,' Dewhurst said. 'We made some mistakes. I had a brand new team that didn't get me. But my compliments to Senator Cruz. He ran a disciplined campaign. That was then. This is now.'"

•    Legislators wrestle with right amount to keep in Texas’ savings account (Austin American-Statesman): "Lawmakers are wrestling once again with the question of how much Texas should squirrel away in its rainy day fund as they consider redirecting some of the tax dollars meant for the reserve to transportation needs. Budget experts say political factors rather than financial considerations will dictate the final outcome."

Quote of the Day: "It’s more of his attempt to secure his re-election in Texas in 2014." — U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, to MSNBC on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's push to amend the federal immigration bill

Must-Read

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.