The Big Conversation
With redistricting inching along, lawmakers are pushing for a little more special session drama.
On Monday, state Rep. Drew Darby, the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, announced plans to hold hearings on the state's voting maps in Texas' three biggest cities — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — over the next two weeks.
As lawmakers indicated last week, the additional hearings mean the Legislature won't likely vote on maps until mid-June, dashing hopes of a quick special session. (The House has recessed until June 17.)
The extra time and languid pace, though, have cast new attention on the host of issues legislators have tried to revive during the special session. According to the Austin American-Statesman, lawmakers in the past week have filed more than 60 bills — many of them conservative-backed measures that failed during the regular session.
"We all put a tremendous amount of time into these issues that fell short," said the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, state Rep. Brandon Creighton of Conroe, who has filed a bill that would effectively exempt the state from any new federal gun regulations.
Republicans have also attempted to resuscitate drug testing for welfare recipients and new abortion restrictions, among other issues.
Though Gov. Rick Perry has expressed willingness to add new items to the agenda, he said last week that he would only consider proposals that stand a chance of passing. The addition of any new items would also have to come soon: With the House adjourned until the 17th, lawmakers would only have about a week to pass legislation once they return.
• Opposition forming to massive Texas water plan (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "After pushing a landmark water initiative through the 83rd Legislature, proponents are now gearing up for their next challenge — selling the package to voters. … Nine other amendments are heading to the state’s 13 million-plus voters, but Senate Joint Resolution 1 is easily the farthest-reaching. Senate Natural Resources Chairman Troy Fraser, a chief proponent, said he hopes to muster 'an army of people' into the campaign to push the measure to victory.'"
• Texans not very engaged as citizens, nonpartisan study finds (The Dallas Morning News): "Texans are not highly engaged voters and citizens — and, by some measures, not very active members of their communities, a nonpartisan study has found. In 2010, the state ranked 51st among the states and the District of Columbia in voter turnout, 49th in the share of its citizens who contacted public officials, 47th in how many trust most of their neighbors and 43rd in the percentage who give to charities."
• Republican Hurd to challenge Gallego in District 23 (San Antonio Express-News): "A second San Antonio Republican filed as a candidate Monday for the congressional seat currently held by Rep. Pete Gallego. Will Hurd, a businessman and former CIA operative, said he would seek the 2014 GOP nomination for the 23rd Congressional District, which sweeps from San Antonio to El Paso."
Quote of the Day: "All of us should be alarmed by this significant step towards government as Big Brother." — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a statement on Monday denouncing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on post-arrest DNA collection
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