Today, Gov. Rick Perry added two more issues, including controversial voter ID legislation, to his list of "emergency items" that legislators can begin deliberating on right away instead of waiting until after the first 60 days of the session.
He also wants legislators to get cracking on legislation encouraging an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring the federal budget be balanced. Already on the "emergency items" list are reforming eminent domain laws and abolishing sanctuary cities.
Voter ID, the requirement that Texans display photo identification before they vote, effectively shut down the 2009 session. Democrats, believing it unnecessarily disenfranchises eligible voters, used stalling tactics to block consideration of it — and everything else — for five days at the end of session. The issue is expected to have a more receptive audience in the Legislature's current Republican-dominated environment.
On the campaign trail, Perry repeatedly asserted his belief that the federal government's budgeting process should be more like the Texas approach, which requires a balanced budget. The state can't do anything directly about that, but can join other states in urging Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would then be ratified by the states.
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Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is on board, issuing a statement: "Texas has a constitutional duty to balance our budget which forces lawmakers to regularly review and prioritize state spending, and Washington should be forced to do the same with federal spending." Dewhurst has long been on the record in favor of voter ID.
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