House

Budget committee reaches deal, prepares to release final budget for House and Senate vote

After months of negotiation, the joint House and Senate Budget Conference Committee on Thursday evening solidified its final version of the state budget for the next two years. Although the final size of the budget has yet to be publicly released, it is expected to be around $210 billion, according to The Texas Tribune.

The 10-member committee, composed of eight Republicans and two Democrats, hashed out the budget’s final details over the course of several days this week.

According to reports, the conference committee’s budget will not include a $3 million transfer from HIV and STD prevention programs into abstinence education, which had been a contentious component of the House budget.

The budget also includes the Senate’s proposed figure for public education, $1.5 billion, instead of the $2.2 billion the House proposed. Details about the budget’s higher education funding, which is distributed through a series of research funds and other targeted programs, are still to come.

Once the full bill is released, it will go to the House and Senate for a vote before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

To read more about the conference committee’s decisions, read The Texas Tribune’s coverage here

Photo Credit: Miles Hutson | Daily Texan Staff

The 84th Texas Legislature is in full swing, and across the aisle, members of the House and Senate are busy filing bills regulating and responding to various issues in higher education. Interested in campus carry? So is the Senate. Thinking about tax exemptions for textbooks? There's a bill for that, too. And state tuition regulation? There are six separate bills in favor. If you're having a hard time keeping track, you're not alone.

To get caught up on all the higher ed bills filed this legislative session, check out the Texan's newly-launched interactive map. Search higher ed bills by member or by district, and watch as each bill makes its way through the legislative process. Want to read the text of any given bill? You can do that, too. 

Stay informed about the bills that directly impact you. Check out The Daily Texan Higher Ed Lege Explorer now!

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

State legislators in the House and Senate filed identical bills Monday that would allow University students, faculty and staff with proper licenses to carry concealed handguns in campus buildings.

Under current Texas laws, licensed students, faculty and staff at universities are allowed to keep handguns in cars on campus, but general “campus carry” is illegal even with a permit.

The two bills, HB937 and SB11, which five representatives and 19 of the 20 Republican senators authored, prohibit University officials from creating rules to ban concealed handguns on campus in general. Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), an author of SB 11, said the bills give more freedom to independent and private schools because the institutions are not regulated by the state as strictly.

“Private institutions may opt out because they are not state institutions,” Seliger said. Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress), primary author of HB937, said the bill would only apply to students over the age of 21 who have completed training and background checks.

“As long as they are concealing their gun as law requires with a license, we don’t want them to have to unarm themselves to [go to class],” Fletcher said.

Each bill does provide some leeway in certain areas and buildings on campus. According to the bill, administrators could still prohibit concealed handguns in residence halls, university-operated hospitals, sports games and on-campus preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools. UT currently has an on-campus preschool.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said it is not clear whether the Dell Medical School will be considered a hospital as defined by the bill. He said it will depend on how the state interprets “hospital” — if the bill is passed.

“It’s too early to say how much of the medical school building and the work that goes on there will qualify as a hospital,” Susswein said. The bills also contain provisions that would prevent universities from being liable for the actions of concealed handgun owners.  

Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), who opposes campus carry and serves as vice chair of the higher education committee, said he thinks college campuses should be a “safety zone,” free of guns.

“I don’t know why in the world we would allow the proliferation of handguns on campus,” Royce said.Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Grandbury), an author of SB 11, said he thinks that allowing licensed students to carry concealed handguns on campus will increase safety.

“Criminals looking to do harm are going to carry on campus, regardless of the law,” “This bill acts as a deterrent, as criminals will no longer be able to assume their victims are unarmed on a college campus,” Birdwell said in an email.

Four Republican members of the House have signed the bill as joint-authors in support of the policy alongside Fletcher.

19 of the 20 Republicans in the Senate are listed primary authors of SB 11. Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is the only Republican senator not listed as a primary author. In a statement from her spokesperson, Austin Arceneaux, Huffman said she is in favor of campus carry but wants to review the bill further.

President William Powers Jr. said he would not support campus carry policies at UT.

“I think the general view is there are situations that can be volatile, and — when a gun is present and alcohol is involved, or whatever — I think in the aggregate, that’s a dangerous situation,” Powers said. “I believe our law enforcement professionals agree with that.”

Representatives from the UT and UT System police departments declined to comment.

Chancellor William McRaven could not be reached for comment. However, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said McRaven does not support campus carry.

“Chancellor McRaven plans to send a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott outlining his thoughts on the issue,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

During the 83rd legislative session, Fletcher filed a similar campus carry bill that was passed in the House and the Criminal Justice Committee in the Senate. The bill did not make it to the Senate floor for vote because Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) blocked it.

The three-fifths rule change last week allows a bill to be heard with 19 votes — which corresponds with the 19 senators supporting the bill. Fletcher said that with the current number of supporters, the bill will pass in the Senate. He anticipates it will pass in the House this legislative session as well.

“Things have changed, and I do believe I am going to get a vote in Senate this time,” Fletcher said.

Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the bill's definition of a hospital. 

Updated: State lawmakers file bill supporting campus carry

On Monday, state legislators in the House and Senate filed identical bills that would allow university students, faculty and staff with licenses to carry concealed handguns in campus buildings.

Under current Texas laws, licensed students, faculty and staff at universities are allowed to keep handguns in cars on campus, but general “campus carry” is illegal even with a permit.

Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cyrpess), a primary author of the bill, said HB937 would only apply to students over the age of 21 who have completed training and background checks.

“As long as they are concealing their gun as law requires with a license, we don’t want them to have to unarm themselves to [go to class],” Fletcher said.

The two bills, HB937 and SB11, prohibit university officials from creating rules to ban concealed handguns on campus generally. Each bill does provide some leeway in certain areas and buildings on campus — according to the bill, administrators could still prohibit concealed handguns in residence halls, university-operated hospitals, and on-campus preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools. More than 400 students between the ages of six weeks and five years under are enrolled in UT’s on-campus Child Development Center.

The bills also contain provisions that would prevent universities from being liable for the actions of concealed handgun owners.  

Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), who opposes campus carry and serves as vice chair of the higher education committee, said he thinks college campuses should be a “safety zone,” free of guns.

“I don’t know why in the world we would allow the proliferation of handguns on campus,” Royce said.

Four Republican members of the House have signed the bill as joint-authors in support of the policy alongside Fletcher.

19 of the 20 Republicans in the Senate are listed primary authors of SB11. Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is the only Republican senator not listed as a primary author.

Huffman will review the bill further before deciding whether or not to sign on as an author, according Huffman spokesman Austin Arceneaux.

“As a legislator, Senator Joan Hoffman has always been one to gather all the facts, carefully examine how legislation will be implemented and always give thoughtful consideration before signing on to any piece of legislation,” Arceneaux said. “She fully attends to approach senate bill eleven in the same manner.”

Similar campus carry bills have sparked debate in previous legislative sessions, but ultimately failed to pass.

President William Powers Jr. said he would not support campus carry policies at UT.

“I think the general view is, there are situations that can be volatile, and when a gun is present and alcohol is involved, or whatever, I think in the aggregate that’s a dangerous situation,” Powers said. “I believe our law enforcement professionals agree with that.”

Representatives from the UT and UT System police departments declined to comment.

Chancellor William McRaven could not be reached for comment, however, System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said McRaven does not support campus carry.

“He does not support concealed weapons on campus and is concerned about the dangers that handguns inherently present,” LaCoste-Caputo said. “Chancellor McRaven plans to send a letter to governor Greg Abbott outlining his thoughts on the issue.”

House transparency committee co-chairs and state Reps. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and Dan Flynn, R-Canton, address the media after a meeting on May 12. The committee determined by a 7-1 vote that there are sufficient grounds for UT System Regent Wallace Hall's impeachment. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (2:56 p.m.): In a statement distributed by attorney Allan Van Fleet, Regent Wallace Hall said his impeachment would not solve the problems he has identified at UT System institutions.

"When a Board encounters problems, coverups, and intransigence at a taxpayer-funded institution, is the proper response to hold those who are responsible accountable, or to impeach the board member?" Hall said in his statement. “If the Transparency Committee desires transparency, it should not seek ways to interfere with investigations that would expose improper conduct at the University of Texas."

Hall said his role as a regent is to protect the individuals at the various UT institutions.

"My efforts as a regent are to serve the interests of our great educational institutions, the students, faculty, and staff who make them great, and the taxpayers who fund them, not to appease a privileged class who abuse them," Hall said.

Original story: In a 7-1 vote Monday, the House transparency committee voted there are sufficient grounds for UT System Regent Wallace Hall’s impeachment. The committee will meet on May 21 and 22 to try and determine the nature of specific articles of impeachment.

If the committee votes on specific articles, Hall’s case will go to the full Texas House of Representatives. If a majority of the members of the House approve of the case’s merits, it will go to the Senate, where members will convene as a court to make a final decision. If the Senate concurs with the committee’s recommendation, Hall will be the first non-elected official to be impeached in Texas history.

Rep. Carol Alvarado, committee co-chair and D-Houston, said Hall’s actions warrant extreme actions.

“Impeachment is an extraordinary tool to use in extraordinary circumstances,” Alvarado said. “I view Regent Hall’s conduct as extraordinary for an appointee.”

Rep. Dan Flynn committee co-chair and R-Canton, said he encouraged Hall to resign, and noted that if Hall were to resign before May 21, the committee would not have to convene.

The only committee member to vote against grounds of impeachment, Rep. Charles Perry R-San Antonio, said he did not feel all sides had been provided adequate chance to explain themselves.

“I think UT has lost some of its swagger,” Perry said. “I believe my opinion may have been different if I had heard testimony from all sides.”

After the committee voted, Rep. Lyle Larson R-San Antonio issued a request for Governor Rick Perry to ask for Hall’s resignation. Larson said he has asked Perry three times previously, with no response.  

"I’ve been contacted by just about every chairman of the UT system for the last four decades, all indicating that something needs to be done,” Larson said. “What this has cost us in recruiting deans, in recruiting a new chancellor, and the monetary impact…like [Martinez Fischer] said, there have been opportunities for the UT system to intervene.”

Senate of College Councils president Geetika Jerath said she felt the decision reflects the best interests of the University.

“We made our voice very clear in our letter to the governor,” Jerath said. “That’s definitely in line with what, as Senate, we have come up with in our letter, and so I’m pleased to see they agree.”

The House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has investigated Hall since July 2013 for potentially overstepping his duties as a regent. He has been accused by some members of the state legislature, including state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie,  as conducting a “witch-hunt” against Powers.

Hall was appointed to a six-year term on the Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry in February 2011. Before his appointment, Hall served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which works with legislators and education officials to enforce various education initiatives.

Tensions between Powers and Hall have been ongoing since 2011, when Powers asked Larry Sager, former dean of the School of Law, to resign after concerns arose regarding the foundation's forgivable loan program. Sager awarded himself a $500,000 loan through the program.

Though Powers said he was not aware of the forgivable loan Sager awarded himself, Hall filed open records requests which yielded roughly 40 boxes of materials and claimed he had evidence Powers was aware of the forgivable loan but chose not to take action. Powers has repeatedly denied these claims.

After state legislators accused Hall of micromanaging the University and working with other regents to remove Powers from his position, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus asked the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations in June 2013 to investigate the actions of executive appointees and recommend articles of impeachment if necessary. The committee subsequently began investigating Hall.

In August 2013, the committee hired Houston attorney Rusty Hardin as its special counsel. Based on recommendations from Hardin, the transparency committee decided in September to not allow cross-examination of witnesses by Hall’s attorneys during the upcoming hearings in the investigation.

According to testimony from Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer at UT, Hall filed open records requests for over 800,000 pages of information from UT. System officials, including outgoing UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, have said the actual number of pages is closer to 100,000.

Last November, the transparency committee heard testimony from Francie Frederick, general counsel for the Board of Regents. Frederick said Hall was mistakenly given access to private student information through his wide ranging open records requests.

In her testimony, Frederick said regents can have access to information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act if they have a valid, job-related reason to see it.

In December, Powers and Cigarroa testified on subpoena in front of the committee. Powers said Hall’s open records requests cost the University well over $1 million, but insisted he could not provide an exact number at the time. Both Cigarroa and Powers testified Hall’s actions were a distraction to UT and the System.

At the request of the committee, Philip Hilder, outside counsel to the System, submitted a report to the transparency committee in January, stating there was “no credible evidence” Hall violated any state laws regarding the release of data. In his report, Hilder said Hall requested all information protected by FERPA be redacted from the documents, but UT failed to completely remove all potentially problematic information when providing Hall with the requested documents.

Hardin prepared a report on the committee’s investigation which concluded Hall likely committed impeachable offenses. The report lists a variety of basis for Hall’s impeachment, including his handling of confidential student information, his treatment of UT-Austin and UT System officials and his large number of open records requests. The report also suggests Hall attempted to interfere with testimony.

Following the release of Hardin’s report, the Travis County district attorney's Public Integrity Unit opened an investigation into allegations that Hall violated privacy laws in distributing private student information obtained in one of his open records requests.

UT System Regent Wallace Hall prepares to leave after a UT System Board of Regents meeting on April 29.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (11:45 a.m.): During the opening remarks of the House transparency committee hearing Monday, Rep. Dan Flynn, committee co-chair and R-Canton, described Regent Wallace Hall’s actions as a “slap in the face” to the Texas Legislature.

“The degree to which Mr. Hall refrained from participating demonstrates that he wanted his role in this investigation to be under his conditions or not at all,” Flynn said.

After eight minutes, the committee moved to executive session to discuss their decision. Flynn said today’s hearing could result in a recommendation of impeachment, the committee postponing their decision or no action.

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, commended his fellow committee members for their dedication to the investigation.

“Nobody on this committee asked for this assignment,” Martinez-Fischer said. “This committee will certainly do what’s necessary to act….It’s important for us to have a very robust discussion. I think we need to come out here and present a united face.”

— Madlin Mekelburg

Original story: A major step in the almost year-long investigation of UT System Regent Wallace Hall will take place Monday, when the House transparency committee investigating Hall will vote on whether to recommend his impeachment. Hall is under investigation for potentially overstepping his bounds as a regent and conducting what some legislators have referred to as a “witch hunt” to oust President William Powers Jr.

If the committee decides to recommend impeachment, Hall’s case will go to the full Texas House of Representatives. If a majority of the members of the House approve of the case’s merits, it will go to the Senate, where members will convene as a court to make a final decision. If the Senate concurs with the committee’s recommendation, Hall will be the first non-elected official to be impeached in Texas history.

In April, the committee released a report indicating Hall likely committed several impeachable offenses. The report, written Rusty Hardin, special counsel to the committee, and his law firm, cited several examples of Hall’s alleged misconduct.

“Hall’s unreasonable and burdensome requests from records and information from UT Austin violated, and continue to violate, the Texas Education Code, the Texas Penal Code, the Board of Regents Rules and Regulations, and the best interests of the [UT System],” the report said. “Hall’s improper use of confidential information violated federal and state privacy statutes … any one of these conclusions would support a decision by the Committee to propose articles of impeachment against [Hall].”

To get live updates from tomorrow’s meeting, follow Jordan Rudner @jrud and Madlin Mekelburg @madlinbmek throughout the day. The hearings will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Update (1:16 p.m.): Rusty Hardin, special counsel to the committee, said the draft of the report was sent to state Reps. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and Carol Alvarado, D-Houston , the co-chairs of the committee, last Tuesday.  Hardin said the other members of the committee received the report Friday.

Hardin said the members of the committee will review the draft of the report and will have a discussion with Hardin about any changes they see fit before the report is released to the public.

According to Hardin, the contract between his law firm, Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP, and the transparency committee expired on March 31.

Original: A draft of the report prepared by the House transparency committee indicates that UT System Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses during his time as a member of the UT System Board of Regents, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle.

The draft of the report, obtained by the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle, states Hall released student information in violation of federal privacy acts. The report states he manipulated the House investigation and coerced witnesses.

The draft of the report — written by Rusty Hardin, general counsel for the committee, and his law firm — said Hall continued to undermine the reputation of UT and President William Powers Jr., even after the committee asked him to stop, according to reports from the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle.  

According to the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle the report includes copies of emails Hall sent to members of the board stating Powers' termination would be easy to overcome.

The House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been investigating Hall since July 2013 for potentially overstepping his duties as a regent. He has been accused by some members of the state legislature as conducting a “witch-hunt” against Powers. 

According to testimony from Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer at UT, Hall filed open records requests for over 800,000 pages of information from UT. System officials, including outgoing UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, have said the actual number of pages is closer to 100,000.

Last November, the transparency committee heard testimony from Francie Frederick, general counsel for the Board of Regents. Frederick said Hall was mistakenly given access to private student information through his wide ranging open records requests.

In her testimony, Frederick said regents can have access to information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act if they have a valid, job-related reason to see it. According to the draft of the report, the committee determined Hall did not have the appropriate reasons for seeking this information.

Philip Hilder, outside counsel to the System, submitted a report to the transparency committee in January, stating there was “no credible evidence” Hall violated any state laws regarding the release of data. In his report, Hilder said Hall requested all information protected by FERPA be redacted from the documents, but UT failed to completely remove all potentially problematic information when providing Hall with the requested documents.

Tensions between Powers and members of the board have been ongoing since 2011, when Powers asked Larry Sager, former dean of the School of Law, to resign after concerns arose regarding the foundation's forgivable loan program. Powers said he was unaware Sager awarded himself a $500,000 loan through the program, while Hall claimed he had evidence Powers was aware of the forgivable loan but chose not to take action. Powers has denied these claims.

In Feburary, Cigarroa announced he will be resigning as chancellor. Cigarroa said his decision to resign had nothing to do with the existing tensions between Powers and the board, although an email sent to Cigarroa by board Chairman Paul Foster suggested Hall accused Cigarroa of not doing his job weeks before Cigarroa announced his resignation.

Cold weather may decrease voter turnout for the House District 50 runoff election between Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle on Tuesday.

After state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, resigned from the House seat in June, a special election was called for November. In the special election, around 60 percent of voters chose one of the three Democratic candidates, while about 40 percent chose VanDeWalle. No candidate received a majority of the votes, so Tuesday’s runoff election will determine the representative. House District 50 consists of parts of North Austin, Pflugerville and areas just west of Bastrop.

University Democrats President David Feigen is a volunteer coordinator for Israel’s campaign. Feigen said he has been working to increase voter turnout, but he is concerned the cold weather will discourage people from voting. 

“Probably our biggest opponent has nothing to do with our opponent and nothing to do with our candidate, but it has a lot to do with the weather,” Feigen said. “It’s an extraneous variable — we don’t know what that will do to people that might think, ‘Oh, she’s got it in the bag. We don’t need to show up.’”

Feigen said he thinks grassroots efforts are especially important in this
election because people may not be informed about the race.

“It’s a January special election where it’s the only race going on,” Feigen said. “Spreading the word and making sure everyone understands how this works is more crucial than ever.”

Daniel Hung, president for College Republicans at Texas, said it is difficult to predict the outcome of the election.

“It’s hard to say because it’s a runoff election, and there’s going to be low turnout,” Hung said. “It’s going to be very cold,
especially tomorrow.”

Feigen said Israel has provided many opportunities for University Democrats to participate in her campaign.

“She showed a belief in us,” Feigen said. “She’s assured University Democrats that we have a friend in the Capitol whose door will always be open to us.”

Feigen said he thinks Israel’s goal to expand the district’s Democratic
electorate is important.

“What was once a 58 percent Democratic district can become more like a 65 percent Democratic district, which doesn’t mean a lot for the person running in that seat, but it means a lot for [a candidate] running statewide,” Feigen said.

Hung said the outcome of the election may signal which political direction Texans will vote in November general elections.

“This district will be a bellwether as to which direction Texas as a whole will blow in 2014,” Hung said. “If VanDeWalle wins, then it would really show that Texas is not moving to the Democratic direction.”

Feigen said he thinks Israel’s previous state government experience will help her reverse cuts to education spending and ensure that teachers’ salaries are more in line with the national average.

According to Hung, many campaign promises may remain unfulfilled in the first few years in office.

“Whoever wins, they’ll be a newly elected state representative,” Hung said. “They’re going to be a freshman in a chamber of 150 legislators, with most of [the legislators] with more seniority than [the newly elected one].”

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a weekly series in which The Daily Texan looks back at something it covered in its 113-year-old history.

One of the biggest competitions in party politics surfaces near the end of each fiscal year.

In a game of high-stakes political chicken, Republicans and Democrats stand firm in backing federal budget positions they may or may not support. This year, party leaders raised the stakes, pushing the federal government into its second-longest shutdown to date.

November 1981 saw the first-ever federal government shutdown under former President Ronald Reagan. The shutdown — a result of disagreements between Reagan, the House and the Senate regarding funding cuts to social programs and foreign aid — furloughed an estimated 400,000 federal government employees for half a day, according to two United Press International articles printed in The Daily Texan on Nov. 23 and 24. The Nov. 24 article called Reagan’s quick shutdown of nonessential government services a “dramatic gesture.”

Reagan signed a $400 million temporary funding bill on Nov. 23, ending the shutdown less than 12 hours after he vetoed a $427.9 million congressional compromise.

“Several members of Congress said approval of the three-week stopgap was as much a sign of Congress’ desire to go home for Thanksgiving holiday as it was a major win for Reagan,” the Nov. 24 article said.

Prior to 1980, government agencies’ nonessential duties were only minimized when the president and Congress failed to agree on an aspect of the federal budget, a period known as a funding gap. But in the early ’80s, Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued two interpretations of the 1870 Antideficiency Act — which had, up until that point, prohibited the government from spending more than was allotted in the budget. This led to the creation of government shutdowns, as the attorney general’s opinions asserted that, in accordance with the act, nonessential government agencies must be suspended during funding gaps.

In the 30 years since their inception, only a few shutdowns have occurred in the U.S. — the longest and most memorable being the December 1995 to January 1996 shutdown. In November 1995, the government shut down for six days because of disagreements between former President Bill Clinton, the House and the Senate about cuts to social program funding, including education cuts.

Tensions between the two parties manifested during the shutdown, with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, claiming that Clinton’s mistreatment of him and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole during a recent trip had contributed to the budget standoff, a Nov. 16 Daily Texan article said. Alternately, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle blamed Gingrich.

“He wants chaos,” Daschle said of Gingrich in the article. “He wants collapse of the government, and now he’s got it.”

The November 1995 shutdown ended when Clinton and Congress agreed to attempt to balance the budget in seven years, continue debates about the budget and temporarily continue government agency funding in an agreement known as a continuing resolution.

The continuing resolution expired Dec. 15, and a second shutdown began — this time spanning 21 days. In January, Clinton and Congress agreed to a seven-year budget plan with modest spending cuts and tax increases. The shutdown came to a close at a cost to the Republican Party, which a majority of Americans blamed for the shutdown.

In this year’s shutdown Democrats and Republicans held tight to opposing agendas, resulting in a temporary extension on the debt limit and halt on the shutdown. So while the players may change over the years, results stemming from political differences many times don’t.

Third special session looms for Texas Legislature

House speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said Gov. Rick Perry would immediately call a third special session later this evening after transportation funding was left unsolved at the closure of the second special session on Tuesday.

The second special session called by Perry was first initiated to address transportation funding as well as abortion restrictions. The bill on the floor Monday would have raised about $900 million for the Texas Department of Transportation from money intended to go to the Texas Rainy Day Fund, fulfilling the state’s most pressing road construction needs. The House vote on the bill fell 16 votes short from the required 100-vote consensus.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, authored the bill and has asked Perry not call another 30-day session immediately and instead wait until after the 2014 primaries.

“Legislators have been in Austin for nearly seven months now, and to go home without dealing with one of the most pressing issues facing all Texans is simply unacceptable,” Perry said in a statement after transportation bills failed Monday. “I join Texans across the state who appreciate the 84 members of the House who voted today to keep Texas moving.”