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Texas Legislature preps for 3rd special session

The Texas Legislature adjourned Tuesday for the final time of the Legislature’s second special session, but both Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the governor will immediately call a third special session.

Lawmakers failed to pass a key transportation measure after House and Senate Republicans did not agree on how to boost funding for road and bridge construction by $900 million a year.

Straus said he had been told that Gov. Rick Perry will call a third special session shortly after the Senate adjourned. Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, told lawmakers to stick around as well to reconvene for as many as 30 more days.

“See you soon,” Dewhurst joked as he gaveled the Senate out. Senators loitered in the chamber while they awaited Perry’s official proclamation.

Lawmakers finished the regular session May 27 but were called back by Perry for two additional, 30-day sessions to pass legislation on abortion, transportation and juvenile justice. The other measures have all passed, except for the transportation package.

A majority of lawmakers supported the constitutional amendment that would divert 50 percent of the oil and gas taxes flowing into the Rainy Day Fund and use it instead for roads and bridges. But to place the measure on the ballot for voter approval, it must first receive two-thirds support in both the House and Senate.

The measure had the votes in the Senate, but not the House where conservatives and Democrats opposed the deal.

Activists have called on Perry to add additional items to the agenda, if he calls a third special session. Among the proposals are tuition revenue bonds to allow public universities to raise more money and a law allowing people to carry concealed handguns on campus.

Perry could also add additional abortion legislation, an issue that brought the Legislature international attention last month.

“Did the governor say what was on the call? Do we assume it’s just transportation or does he have some other issues he’s not told us about?” Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston asked.

Straus said the proclamation has not been delivered yet. He jokingly suggested that Dutton head to Perry’s office, to which Dutton replied: “I would but he doesn’t answer my calls, nor does he open the door.”

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