Rick Perry calls a second special session
NOT IF, BUT WHEN
To the surprise of no one, Gov. Rick Perry announced on June 26 that, yes, there will be another special session. After the mortifying defeat of Senate Bill 5 Tuesday night (see "A Victory by the People"), Perry announced, at around 4pm on Wednesday, that he was calling the Legislature back for another shot at his repressive abortion plans, starting at 2pm on July 1.
THE OTHER BILLS
Just as the text and malicious spirit of SB 5 returns in the second special, so do the last two bills that died in the filibuster. Senate Joint Resolution 2 was a Constitutional amendment: If approved by voters in November, it will reallocate a portion of the oil and gas severance taxes that normally goes to the Rainy Day Fund into the State Highway Fund. And SB 23 will introduce a mandatory sentence of life without parole for 17-year-olds convicted of a capital crime. Both are part of Perry's June 26 call, but just because they were headed to final approval doesn't mean their passage will automatically be fast. The Senate version of SB 23 included life with parole, so there could still be discord between the two chambers. Similarly, the House and Senate Republican caucuses may still come to blows over the 20-week, "fetal pain" abortion ban – the Senate version of SB 5 removed that, and it was the more radical House that restored it.
IMPEACHMENT AT THE UT TOWER The ongoing cold war between the Texas House and the UT System Board of Regents flamed up this week with the beginning of an impeachment investigation. On June 25, Speaker Joe Straus made a proclamation instructing the House Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee to begin an investigation into what has broadly been seen as a witch hunt by some university regents against senior UT staff. The prime target of the investigation will be UT regent Wallace Hall, who has been accused of abusing his office in an attempt to remove President Bill Powers. But it's no secret that in the fallout, Gov. Perry may suffer some serious collateral damage. For years, Perry has run Texas A&M like a private fiefdom, and more recently, he's tried to exert similar control over the state's other flagship university, through his appointment of regents like Hall. On June 14, Perry rebuffed attempts by lawmakers to depoliticize the hiring and firing of university leadership. He vetoed Sen. Kel Seliger's Senate Bill 15, which would have limited the regents' powers over the president (see "Perry's Vexing Vetoes," June 21). House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts had already filed a similar impeachment call, House Resolution 230. That never got a hearing during the session, but now the Transparency Committee will meet during the interim to investigate allegations against Hall.