Texas leaders have to pick up the pieces in Austin

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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What a difference a month-long special session of the Texas Legislature can make.

The same lawmakers who ended a relatively amicable and semi-productive five-month regular session on May 27 were unable to accomplish much besides chaos in the following 30 days.

Disorder in the Capitol peaked late Tuesday/early Wednesday when a packed gallery of opponents to tighter abortion restrictions shouted down the final moments of Senate action on the bill.

There’s not much to do but pick up the pieces and begin putting them back together. It means work enough for everyone, starting at the top:

• Gov. Rick Perry has to be the lead picker-upper. He said Wednesday the Legislature will come back for another special session beginning July 1.

Fair enough. Transportation funding is still a burning issue for Texas, and the state still must revamp its law on punish-ment for 17-year-old murderers.

Abortion is something else. Perry was defiant in calling for Round 2, saying, “We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”

On June 11, when he added abortion to the Round 1 special session agenda, the governor must have thought his GOP colleagues could push expanded restrictions through the legislative mill quickly.

Now there’s reason to ask whether they really wanted to. The Legislature has no shortage of seasoned leaders, and for them to allow such a contentious issue to be pushed into the session’s final moments defies explanation.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus bear some responsibility for the breakdown. Now Perry has put them back in the ring for Round 2.

The folks from the gallery are likely to be back. Dewhurst and Straus have the additional challenge of allowing them to take part in their state government without throwing it off track.

• Attorney General Greg Abbott should have his head examined.

He said after Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision knocking down a key part of the federal Voting Rights Act that it meant contentious congressional and legislative districts approved in 2011 could now go into effect.

Sure, that could happen — if we’ve decided we really like disorder in state government.

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