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Thank God and Greyhound

Maybe it's our imagination, but everyone seemed to leave town in a hurry.

House Speaker Joe Straus (l), R-San Antonio, adjourns the House of Representatives sine die on June 29, 2011.

If that was a scientific experiment, we learned this: Texas lawmakers get very, very cranky when you keep them around for 170 days instead of 140, particularly when the issues in play are highly contested. Look at the list: Public school finance, teacher workplace rights, student-to-teacher ratios, sanctuary cities, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, invasive security pat-downs at airports.

The must-have issues — the school and budget stuff, and TWIA — all passed, and aides to the governor say he's got no intention of calling lawmakers back to finish the things they didn't finish.

Both chambers passed sanc cities, but not at the same time and not in the same form. That particular beast died in the Senate in the regular session and in the House in the special (a last-ditch effort failed, but was only attempted after the bill languished in the House State Affairs Committee).

The anti-groping bill died for lack of oxygen and an overdose of drama. Gov. Rick Perry added it to the agenda late. House sponsor David Simpson's reluctance to amend it frustrated House Speaker Joe Straus to a level of public consternation. (The Quote, if you somehow missed it: "The bill, without some serious revisions, appears to me to be nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt. It's unenforceable, ill-advised and misdirected to uniformed security personnel, not where appropriately it should be aimed, which is in Washington to the bosses of these people.") Not enough of Simpson's fellow House members showed up to give him a quorum for a vote. The House tentatively approved it on the third-to-last day. The Senate, where a filibuster had been promised, saw a last-minute bill headed its way and gaveled out, leaving the House with its own mess. And the bill died there, when Simpson got only 96 of the 120 votes he needed to pass the thing on the last day. He gave the House leadership a kick before the vote, falsely accusing them of waiting an extra day to bury him with a supermajority vote. And the whole show ended with a humdinger of a personal privilege speech from the freshman author.

Maybe it's our imagination, but everyone seemed to leave town in a hurry.

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