During the Senate's afternoon recess, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst offered his thoughts on the special session's unanswered questions on sanctuary cities legislation, the TWIA compromise, and the chances of coming back in July.
Talking with reporters after the upper chamber broke for a few hours to refine a court reform bill it expects to hear this afternoon, Dewhurst said the fate of the controversial sanctuary cities legislation lay across the dome.
"The House has 101 representatives and a number of other members who often vote with the speaker, and all they have to do is pass SB 9 in the form that we sent it to them, and it automatically goes to the governor," he said, adding that news over the weekend that prominent Republican donors Charles Butt and Bob Perry had been working behind the scenes to defeat the legislation had come as a surprise.
"I don't pretend to understand the House... I have enough challenges with running the Senate that I'm not going to get into the House business," he said, "but I would love to see the House come together and take that legislation so we can send it directly to the governor."
Dewhurst said that he believed SB 9 was the only remaining vehicle for sanctuary cities and that there was not much momentum to attach it as an amendment to SB 1, the must-pass school finance measure. Doing so, he said, would "jeopardize the passage of both sanctuary cities and school finance."
The lieutenant governor outlined the compromise the two chambers had reached on the overhaul of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association as well. The final plan, which he said the governor supported, "closely resembled" the legislation the Senate had supported.
"It's exactly the language which we were discussing that Saturday night before the Monday Sine Die," Dewhurst said.
The Senate will take up the conference committee report on the TWIA bill tomorrow around 1 p.m., he said. Also on the agenda, if both senators can get the votes to bring the measures to the floor, are Sen. Rodney Ellis's statewide smoking ban and Sen. Dan Patrick's anti-TSA groping bill.
As soon as the conference committee report on SB 1 was eligible, Dewhurst said he'd bring it to the floor. He said the chances of another filibuster in the last two days of the special were slim:"I don't think it's going to be as controversial. We've already had one filibuster and I trust that the senators would not want to go through it a second time."
And would the governor veto SB 1, which contains two Amazon related measures he opposes, pushing lawmakers into a second speciall session?
"I think he'll sign it," Dewhurst said.