Special Bills for a Special Session
UPDATE: Measures mix unfinished business, new ideas, grandstanding
By Richard Whittaker,
4:45PM, Tue. May 31, 2011
The first special session of the 82nd Legislature is only 525 minutes old, but there has already been the micro-flurry of bills filed. The big question is, how many fill Gov. Rick Perry's specific charge to lawmakers, and how many are waiting for him to expand the charge?
Here's exactly what Perry put into his call to the two chambers, issued late last night as everyone was working on their sine die drinking:
To consider legislation relating to fiscal matters necessary for the implementation of House Bill No. 1 as passed by the 82nd Legislature, Regular Session, including measures that will allow school districts to operate more efficiently.
To consider legislation relating to healthcare cost containment, access to services through managed care, and the creation of economic and structural incentives to improve the quality of Medicaid services.
Since the governor controls the topic of any special session, the wording is important. The expected topics were:
a: The school finance reforms tacked on to Senate Bill 1811.
b: Fixing the budget hole left by kaiboshing the original intent of SB 1811 (The $4 billion in one-time money found by Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock)
c: Texas Windstorm Insurance Association reform (better known as "Getting into a public fight with Steve Mostyn, attorney to Gulf Coast businesses and a major Democratic donor.")
d: Congressional redistricting (aka "How do we get US Rep. Joe Barton to abandon his lawsuit against the state before the Iowa caucuses start?"
e: Sanctuary cities (the big stick Perry was waving over Democrats if they did not pass SB 1811.)
Instead, TWIA, sanctuary cities, and congressional redistricting are absent, and Medicaid is on.
What this means is that a bunch of bills have been filed, which break down into three categories. Firs, those filed on the presumption that Perry will extend the call and make them eligible (sanctuary cities, congressional redistricting.) A bunch more have been filed in a fit of weird optimism (such as two water authority bills from Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay.) And then there is a third group, such as Richardson Republican Rep. Jerry Madden's restructuring of prison health care and the array of school expense bills from Houston Democrat Rep. Scott Hochberg, that fit snugly within the charge as written. So far, only a handful (marked below with a *) have been scheduled for Senate committee hearings, starting Thursday. But if the charge expands, or if Perry calls them back again for another session (as he has mused about doing with TWIA) then those other bills may find new life.
UPDATE: Perry has just added "legislation relating to congressional redistricting" to the charge. Looks like Solomon's birthday came early. The hearing is reportedly scheduled for Friday.
At the moment, it is hard to tell exactly what is in every bill, because the text is not online yet. Here is the list of what has been filed:
SB 1: The return of SB 1811, the composite fiscal matters/school finance/Real ID pilot program bill (Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock: Florence Shapiro, R-Plano)*
SB 2: Appropriations matters for 2011-13 (Steve Ogden, R-Bryan)*
SB 4: Congressional redistricting (Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo)
SB 5: Interstate Health Care Compact (Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place: Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound)*
SB 6: The return of HB 6,creating a new schools instructional material allotment (Shapiro)*
SB 7: Medicaid reforms (Nelson)*
SB 8: "Mandate relief" for schools, as seen in the divisive HB 400 (Shapiro)*
SB 16: New bonding rules for colleges (Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo)
SB 17: Interstate Health Care Compact. study group (Dan Patrick, R-Houston)
SB 18: A super-specific water management bill for an unnamed water district (Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay)
SB 19: Ditto (Fraser)
SB 20: Voter eligibility for non-resident US citizens (Patrick)
SB 21: New penalties for prescribing or distributing abortion-inducing drugs (Patrick)
HB 4: Congressional redistricting (Burt Solomons, R-Carrolton)
HB 5: Interstate Health Care Compact (Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham)
HB 7: Health care administration and quality (John Zerwas, R-Richmond)
HB 9: Sanctuary cities (Solomons)
HB 13: Medicaid reimbursement restructuring (Kolkhorst)
HB 26: Healthcare payment reform for prison inmates (Jerry Madden, R-Richardson)
HB 27: Instructing University Interscholastic League to cut costs by 20% by 2012-13 school year (Scott Hochberg, D-Houston)
HB 28: Extra-curricular activity eligibility for transfer students (Hochberg)
HB 29: Subject and grade assessment requirements (Hochberg)
HB 30: Unpaid furloughs for state employees (Jim Callegari, R-Katy)
HB 31: School personnel bill (Callegari)
HB 32: Interstate Health Care Compact Study Group (Zerwas)
HB 33: Efficient government resource allocation (Sid Miller, R-Stephenville)