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The Brief: June 10, 2013

The special session, still inching along, has exposed a rift between two prominent state senators.

Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, holds a copy of the state budget on the Senate floor March 20, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The special session, still inching along, has exposed a rift between two prominent state senators. 

The Dallas Morning NewsBob Garrett reported over the weekend that state Sen. Tommy Williams, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, last week pushed to remove Sen. Dan Patrick as head of the Senate Education Committee.

According to the Morning News, Williams polled fellow senators on whether they would support stripping Patrick of his chairmanship, apparently due to Patrick's vote against the state budget during the regular session. 

Senators said they didn't know whether Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, had supported Williams' move, though Dewhurst's office denied that he played any role.

"The lieutenant governor’s not involved in this, and he didn’t encourage it," said Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine.

Patrick's relations with both Williams and Dewhurst — all three are Republicans — have grown testy at times. Though Patrick, founder of the Legislature's Tea Party Caucus, last year appeared to have mended his strained relationship with Dewhurst, negotiations over the budget and a major education overhaul bill inflamed tensions between the two this session, the Morning News notes. (The two may also face off in a Republican primary in 2014 if Patrick decides to run for lieutenant governor.)

"I’m much more worried about the people being unhappy with the votes I cast than a lieutenant governor," Patrick said.

Read more about the drama, including what it means for House Speaker Joe Straus, here.


•    Perry likens federal phone surveillance to China (The Associated Press): "Sounding like a candidate gearing up for another presidential run, Gov. Rick Perry on Friday blasted the Obama administration in some of the harshest terms he has used since his failed White House bid in 2011. … A hint of his intentions, though, may have come in Perry's fiery tone and focus on non-Texas issues while addressing the National Federation of the Grand Order of Pachyderm Clubs, a Republican grassroots group active in 14 states. 'We have an administration today that is taking alarming steps to infringe upon our rights in the name of consolidating their power,' Perry told about 200 activists who gathered in San Antonio for the organization's national convention."

•    Editorial: Texas Goes Sacramento (The Wall Street Journal): "The danger is that Texas will repeat the fiscal mistake that California has made repeatedly: spend during the glory days and, once the economy slows, raise taxes to cover the deficit. The Texas oil patch is riding high on $95 a barrel oil and a doubling in production in four years. But Texans shouldn't forget the lesson of the 1980s and late 1990s that oil prices are volatile and a decline can be painful and prolonged."

•    Redistricting road show coming to S.A. (San Antonio Express-News): "The Texas House is bringing its redistricting road show to San Antonio on Monday, where lawmakers from a 19-member panel tapped to work on election maps during the special session will hear proposals for stronger minority representation."

•    Leo Linbeck Jr., TLR Co-founder, Dead at 78 (The Texas Tribune): "Leo Linbeck Jr., the Houston construction magnate who co-founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform to transform the state’s tort laws and promoted the idea of replacing the income tax with a sales tax, died Saturday morning."

Quote of the Day: "Who knew, when you were watching the Verizon ad and the guy said, 'Can you hear me now,' that was really just a mic check for the Obama administration." — Rick Perry in a speech in San Antonio on Friday


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