Texas Governor Rick Perry stated yesterday he will, eventually, call a special session.
Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday a special legislative session will be necessary to keep alive the state’s transportation and insurance regulatory departments but declined to say whether he also will include the contentious Republican-backed voter identification measure.
“We are to the point now where we can say there will be a special session. When is still a little bit up in the air,” Perry said.
Suffice it to say that we will have a special session because the recent regular session lacked leadership. For the upcoming special session to be successful, no matter when it actually convenes, there will need to be some. As Burka said, “Perry has not fared well in previous special sessions..”, so in order for him to fare well it should be very “businesslike”.
When the session actually convenes and whether Voter ID will be taken up likely depends on the timing. To have it in effect for the primary’s it would need to get the law passed soon, since Department of Justice (DOJ) pre-clearance would be needed as well. Which brings up an interesting point, who would benefit in the GOP primary from having a Voter ID system in place – Perry or Hutchison?
And that brings into question the other political calculation regarding when to call the special session. If he calls a special session soon it’s best for him if it’s over quick, and work gets done so he can finally have shown some leadership and accomplished something. Since the governor has more control in a special it’s an opportunity for Perry, and if it’s unsuccessful he will have been through his last regular session as governor.
Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth: If the special session is to address critical issues such as agency sunset measures, “the sooner the better,” he said. “But if this is for his right-wing ideological agenda, then he’s using state money for his campaign purposes and that’s wrong.”
Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford: “My preference would be that we just deal with the sunset issues and the $2 billion of bond funding for TxDOT. The other item I hope we can do: voter ID, to make sure we have integrity in the next election cycle.”
Perry could narrowly craft his orders for the session so that lawmakers simply pass a so-called safety net bill to keep the agencies open for two more years and authorize the transportation money. That could get lawmakers in and out of town in a week or so.
More comprehensive legislation extending the agencies and making reforms in insurance and transportation policies didn’t pass during the regular session, but Perry could put it back on the agenda. The agencies needed to be reauthorized because they had been under “sunset” review, the process by which lawmakers must periodically vote to keep agencies open. Lawmakers often use this process to make changes at agencies.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said Tuesday that lawmakers could tackle those reforms and still finish their work quickly.
Some Republicans will want legislation boosting voter identification requirements added to the special session call. At the end of the regular session, House Democrats talked for days about noncontroversial bills to keep the voter ID legislation from coming up. Perry declined to speculate about whether he would make voter ID part of the special session.
Voter ID should be kept out of the special session, Watson said.
“If he keeps his eye on the ball and limits the call so that we don’t get into distractions, I think we can get this done quickly,” Watson said.
It seems to come down to what Perry wants out of a special session. If he feels he needs to shore up his right flank even more, he’ll add Voter ID/voter suppression to the call. If he feels good about his right flank, and wants to try and bring back some of the “moderate” GOP voters that KBH is banking on, he can keep it quick, get the Sunset work done, get out with a win and everyone goes home happy. That would take leadership and it’s up to him.
Note: The Sunset work includes, the Texas Department of Transportation; the Texas Department of Insurance; the Texas Racing Commission; the Office of Public Insurance Counsel; and the State Affordable Housing Corporation.