Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Texas 83's Second Special Session Sees Extra Bills

The Texas 83rd Legislature was recalled into a second special session by Governor Rick Perry. The special session was called to handle three specific topics. However, several bills have been filed that have nothing to do with these stated purposes.

The three purposes stated for this second special session are clear. The legislature was to consider legislation in regards to abortion regulations. They were recalled to consider legislation in regards to establishing or increasing Texas toll roads. The third purpose was to consider legislation in regards to punishments for capital crimes committed by minors (17 and under). That third purpose is in response to a US Supreme Court decision earlier this year. Under Texas Law a 17 year old is tried as an adult for capital offenses.

I, RICK PERRY, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF TEXAS, by the authority vested in me by Article III, Section 5 and Article IV, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution, do hereby call an extraordinary session of the 83rd Legislature, to convene in the City of Austin, commencing at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 1, 2013, for the following purposes:
To consider legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities.
To consider legislation relating to the funding of transportation infrastructure projects.
To consider legislation relating to establishing a mandatory sentence of life with parole for a capital felony committed by a 17-year-old offender.
The Secretary of State will take notice of this action and will notify the members of the legislature of my action.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 26th day of June 2013.
Governor of Texas

Instead of filing the three to five bills necessary to accomplish those stated goals, there have been several more. Among the deluge of new proposed legislation are bills concerning firearms regulations (HB 19), same-sex civil unions (HB 20), voter ID laws, reporting of the hiring of illegal immigrants (SB 17), constitutional amendments, repealing constitutional amendments (HJR 11), and even a restructure/rewrite of the Republic of Texas's Constitution (HCR 2).

While many of these issues merit at least the debate if not some form of vote or legislative action, they go beyond the stated scope of the special session. The lawmakers need to stay the course of their stated mission. The special session has a limited duration. The three issues before them will likely require much debate, especially with mobs gathered outside the capitol with the intention of delaying some legislative actions.

It appears as though some members of the 83rd Congress are ignoring Governor Perry's words bringing up the bills they want instead of concentrating on the topics they were hired to consider:

"The Texas Legislature is poised to finish its history-making work this year by passing legislation to protect the unborn and women's health, invest in our transportation infrastructure and ensure our justice system is fair but firm. This work will build on the historic steps we took during the 83rd Legislative session, addressing our needs for water, cutting the tax burden on Texans and establishing a new university in South Texas. As we open the second special session, we must remember the people of Texas hired us to do our job, and that's what we must do."

Perhaps some lawmakers are hoping to sneak in a few pet issues during this special session. Perhaps these bills were filed as a means to delay addressing the stated concerns for which they were recalled. Whatever the reasoning, the legislature must first complete its priorities before addressing these additional items. Those should be left for any game time left on the clock. Keep in mind, this is the second overtime period.