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Perry Expands the Call

Governor adds transportation, abortion, and minimum sentencing to special session

By Richard Whittaker, Fri., June 14, 2013

For those in the Texas Legislature waiting for the other shoe to drop on the special session, the footwear pours down as Gov. Rick Perry adds not one but three more items to the call: transportation, abortions, and minimum sentencing. Perry dragged lawmakers back less than an hour after the regular session to adopt the interim House, Senate, and Congressional maps drawn by court judges in 2012. However, that instruction fell on deaf ears, as both the House and Senate Select Committees launched a series of public meetings around the state. This lengthened the process, and makes it clear that both chambers are prepared to at least discuss alternate maps. With the rest of the lawmakers now twiddling their thumbs, on June 10 Perry announced that he would reopen negotiations on providing extra cash for roads. Legislators failed to reach a deal on funding mechanisms during the regular session; the fact that the controversial measure is back on the agenda suggests a deal may be near completion.

However, expect less accord on the two items added the next day. Perry wants lawmakers to pass more regulation of already heavily regulated abortion providers – red meat for the Tea Party and evangelicals. More surprising is his call for a mandatory minimum sentence of life with parole for 17-year-olds in capital felony cases: a measure no one has been describing as a priority, other than prosecutors.

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