Thursday, June 27, 2013

Texas Congress -- Get Back In Your Room!

Governor Rick Perry has called the 83rd Texas Legislature back into another special session. 

When you watch an unruly mob interrupt the due process of a special legislative session, what do you do?

There is a bit more to the story.

Texas's 83rd legislative session had come to an end. However, SB2 (the state budget), some bills regarding legislative district lines, and a couple of other bills were left unfinished. A few of those are quite important to how the state will do its business in the near future.

So, Governor Perry sent the 83rd Congress back into session.

After about two weeks or so, many of the issues completed their time in the legislative gauntlet and were passed or shot down. Among those bills were several dealing with medical regulations, specifically abortion. The various bills were amended to a comprehensive bill called SB5.

SB5, a Senate Bill, passed the Senate and was sent to the House for its vote. The House amended the bill and passed it on June 23rd. On June 24th, the Senate was set to do a reconciliation vote concerning the amendments attached by the House.

A Democratic state Senator, Wendy Davis, decided she would follow in Rand Paul's footsteps and filibuster on principle. She was not sure she'd stop the bill. But she had to try to keep the bill from passing before the clock ran out on the special session.

Well, she failed. The Senate voted for cloture with enough time to conduct its final vote to pass the bill.

However, in came the mob. The mob, who calls for "human rights" came in to champion taking those rights from unborn children who are past 20 weeks of gestation. A child past 20 weeks is capable of being born alive and living a full life outside of the womb. The child may not be fully developed and may need some special care, but the child can live. Then again, this describes most full-term births as well. You would be hard pressed to find any infant that was fully developed (adult teeth, hair, needed to shave, fully grown) and capable of getting a job at three days old.

The mob created a ruckus. Much of it was in support of the filibustering senator. Others were in support of the bill's passage. In any case, the mob preempted the vote, the bill's passage, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst from signing the bill, recording the passing vote, before that clock expired.

There are soccer fans out there. So one of you may need to help educate others on "injury time". The information here may be incorrect as the author is not much of a World Cup Soccer fan. During World Cup and Olympic soccer games, there is a period after "official time" called "injury time". In short, the timekeeper adds together all the seconds the officials take from standard game time while making calls, throwing out crybabies, etc. They then restart a clock on a countdown in order to allow those "stolen" seconds to be played.

That is what that last day of the special session needed -- Injury Time. The standard rules do not account for mob actions. Those seconds that the mob stole from the legislature needed to be added back. The legislative process was injured/impeded. But there is no provision allowing for that within the chamber rules.

The filibuster and the mob's interference also delayed votes on other key bills, including ones much less partisan in nature. 

So what do you do about this?

If you are Governor Rick Perry, you exercise your constitutional executive privilege to recall congress to another special session. You give them that "injury time".