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At Perry's Behest, Lawmakers Back for a Second Helping

After an end-of-session debate killed three bills, including a controversial abortion bill that prompted a filibuster, Gov. Rick Perry is calling lawmakers back for more. They started Monday.

Protesters filled the Texas Capitol in June 2013 when state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibustered a bill on abortion …

Here they come again, with one group hoping to keep the spectacle going and the other trying to let the air out of the tires.

Bet on group No. 2 — they have the easier job.

National media trying to catch up on the story of the abortion fight in Texas, on the findings of life in the Texas Democrats, and in the personification of it all in Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, will be watching and hoping for a repeat of the drama of the last night of the first special session.

This time, the time is on the side of the majority. Abortion regulation, transportation and a fix to the sentencing options for 17-year-old capital murderers are on the agenda for the second special session, and this time, they start with 30 days to run. They can actually listen to testimony until even the advocates wear out. They have time to debate, to let the air out of the tires, to lower the temperature.

Plus, they already know how to do it wrong.

Last time, Gov. Rick Perry opened the call to those items two weeks into the first special session. The House was in the middle of a two-week recess and didn’t get back to work until June 17 — a little more than a week before the end of the session. The only tool available to opponents of the abortion measure was the clock. Perry, Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have all seen this movie before, and if they were surprised when it went down to the wire, that’s a surprise in itself.

Democrats and reproductive rights activists took advantage of the clock, packing hearings and hectoring the House and the Senate in the way that the rules and the presiding officers allow that to happen. The whys about the legislation go on and on.

For instance.

  • Why didn’t the House just pass the Senate’s abortion bill and then try to run with a separate bill that would have outlawed the procedure after 20 weeks of gestation?
  • Why did the House take the last Saturday off, scheduling the debate for Sunday and all but forcing the Senate to take it up on the last day of the session?
  • If proponents of the legislation in the Senate really wanted to play hardball to shorten a filibuster, why did they take so long to do it?
  • Why didn’t they clear the gallery of loud advocates?
  • Why didn’t they vote on the transportation and criminal justice bills before bringing up the abortion bill?
  • Why did the Republican management build such a tall pedestal for Davis when they and the Democrats knew the governor could simply call everyone back for another try and that, without a deadline to lean on, the Democrats didn’t have the votes?
  • And how did Dewhurst blow an opportunity like that to burnish his credentials with the conservative voters who turned on him a year ago in the U.S. Senate primary runoffs?

And now it starts all over again.

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Here is this week's still somewhat fuzzy look at who is in (and might be in) the statewide races in 2014. Unless noted, the candidates below are Republicans. 

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