After this, it’s time for a legislative break

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Gov. Rick Perry should not add any more topics to the Legislature’s special session.

When lawmakers are done with his current assignments — and it is all but certain that they will approve bills on additional abortion restrictions, transportation funding and sentences for 17-year-old murderers — he should send them home for some rest.

They’re stressed and cranky enough as it is.

There’s no shortage of additional bills they could work on, already filed and their advocates pushing for action. But just as there are some worthy measures in that stack, there are also some stinkers.

At the top of the worthy category is Senate Bill 6, filed by the Higher Education Committee chairman, Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. It would authorize the issuance of revenue bonds to fund capital projects at state colleges and universities.

Higher education facilities across the state, from North Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, to the Panhandle and El Paso, have projects queued up waiting for bond financing so they can meet the demands of growing enrollment and research projects.

While SB6 would be worth the effort of expanding the governor’s call for the special session that began July 1, and while there’s time to get it properly vetted and passed by the end of the session, it can wait.

Once adding topics gets started, the chance of legislative fighting looms large.

Bills and resolutions already on file push causes including further expansion of charter schools, private school vouchers, state spending limits, carrying licensed handguns, sex education, equal pay, Medicaid expansion, enforcement of federal firearms laws, body cavity searches, funding the Travis County district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit and a rewrite of the state constitution.

Controversial issues, by their very nature, take a lot of legislative time and energy. The best evidence of this is that lawmakers are in their second special session aimed mainly at restricting abortion, which they couldn’t get done in the 140-day regular session or the succeeding 30-day special session.

In his announcement Monday that he will not run for another term as governor, Perry said he will continue to shepherd this special session and “additional special sessions if required.”

Fine. Call another special session later if it’s required. For now, it’s time for a break.

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