AUSTIN – Legislators will stay in Austin for the near future as they work on legislation that would balance the state budget and control health care costs. It is the prerogative of the governor to set the agenda for a special session, and Rick Perry has put these two items on the call.
The special session was required after a bill that found sources of revenue needed to balance the budget died on a filibuster in the Senate on Sunday night. Without that bill, the budget approved by both houses of the Legislature on Saturday cannot be certified by the Comptroller.
A bill that would use efficiency measures to achieve health care savings, authored by Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, died in the House after the Senate didn't pass the fiscal matters bill.
Tuesday morning, Senators filed eight bills dealing with the issues laid out by the governor in his proclamation. The Senate Finance committee will take up bills related to additional revenue and health care savings on Thursday. Likewise, the Senate Education Committee will look at bills related to a school finance plan for the next two years.
A special session lasts for up to 30 days, but the governor may call as many as he wants, and in series, until the legislation he feels necessary is passed. Additionally, he may continue to add items to the call as the session wears on.
Perry has already said that the legislature would need to deal with reform legislation to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association before the hurricane season gets into full swing, so it is possible he will add that issue and perhaps others to the call before he lets lawmakers head back home.