The Big Conversation
A subdued start to the special session has shifted attention back to Gov. Rick Perry.
With a final vote on redistricting maps — the only item Perry has put on the special session agenda so far — coming later than expected, speculation about Perry's legislative plans, as well as his political future, has accelerated.
On Friday, Perry said he hadn't ruled out adding more items, like reforming the troubled Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, to lawmakers' special session to-do list. He indicated, however, that he would only consider adding items that stand a good chance of passing.
"We’re not going to be adding things to the call just for the sake of adding things to the call," Perry said. "We want to be relatively assured that we’re going to be successful."
Perry's plans for the special session may also reveal clues to his political ambitions, which he has said he will announce sometime this month. Though Capitol observers say signs point to Perry stepping aside to let Attorney General Greg Abbott run for governor in 2014, the addition of conservative-backed measures — like abortion restrictions — to the special session call would give Perry a chance to burnish his conservative credentials if he chooses to run for re-election.
"All the indications are that Perry will not run and Abbott is the designated successor by the Austin insiders," former Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken, who recently launched his own gubernatorial bid, told the Tribune's Jay Root. "But who can predict what Rick Perry is going to do?"
National economic growth, which has recently revived competition between states, is also casting new attention on Perry's high-profile job-poaching efforts (details of which Abbott's office recently said can stay secret). And as Politico reports, prominent Democrats aren't holding back in their criticism of Perry's efforts.
"He can come to my state anytime. He should learn a lot from my state," said U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "We’re compassionate people, we want to make sure all our people get health care — unlike him. I hope he comes again because I’ll show him around all the alternative energy we do, and how we value our children and have after-school programs."
• The 'dam has burst' for GOP ambition (San Antonio Express-News): "Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, might be interested in running for agriculture commissioner (assuming [Todd] Staples is definitely out) or, perhaps, the seat now held by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. Campbell suggested she's unfazed: 'I don't have time to be concerned about who's nipping at my heels.' Some floated Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed's name as a potential attorney general candidate. Reed said some have asked her to consider the idea, but she's not going to make the race. 'I love what I'm doing, and I want to stay here,' Reed said."
• House redistricting committee to hold hearings in Houston, around the state (San Antonio Express-News): "The Texas House panel tapped to focus on the state’s election maps during the special session is planning to take its show on the road over the next two weeks to hold hearings in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Rep. Drew Darby, chairman of the House Select Committee on Redistricting, said at a hearing Saturday that he’s decided to hold informational sessions in three of the state’s largest cities for members of the public who can’t make the trip to Austin."
• Congressional Democrats ask Perry to add Medicaid expansion to special session (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas Democrats in Congress have asked Gov. Rick Perry to add Medicaid expansion to the Legislature’s ongoing special session. In a letter sent Friday to Perry, 11 of the 12 Democrats in the state’s delegation to Congress told Perry that failing to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act would leave 49,000 veterans without health insurance."
Quote of the Day: "In my view, the Legislature accomplished more substantive tax relief and expanded more freedoms in the last 140 days of session than the U.S. Congress has in decades." — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in an op-ed in The Dallas Morning News
- In the Crosshairs, The New Yorker
- Austin builds 'great streets,' but at what cost?, Austin American-Statesman
- Drought parches South Texas graveyards, The Associated Press
- Income-Based Diversity Lags at Many Public Universities, The New York Times
- Despite Acquittal, Winfrey Struggles Outside Prison, The Texas Tribune