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That’s a wrap for the special session

I don’t know if it’s a record, but a little more than 30 hours after they gaveled in yesterday, both chambers adjourned sine die today, bringing the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it special session to a close. As noted yesterday, the two bills deemed to be actual needs, SB2 to extend the life of the state agencies that had been left hanging in June, and HB1 to appropriate bond money for transportation projects, passed easily. The third item on the call, addressing comprehensive development agreements (CDAs) for toll roads, which was considered by the Lege to be optional, withered on the vine in the face of stiff opposition and a preference to do nothing rather than fight it out. With nothing else to do – nobody really expected Governor Perry to extend the call for anything else, despite the numerous other bills that were pre-filed, just in case – they called it quits. And a grateful state breathes a sigh of relief, not to mention a bunch of newsies and bloggers that were looking forward to a peaceful holiday weekend.

One is left to wonder why Perry bothered with the CDA agenda item when it became clear so rapidly that it was going nowhere. Burka in particular thinks it was a mistake.

The governor’s fight for more toll roads and more Comprehensive Development Agreements makes no sense politically. It puts the spotlight directly on his most controversial policy. It’s a heaven-sent opportunity for Kay Bailey Hutchison to differentiate herself from Perry, but when I spoke to a Hutchison adviser today, I heard the same line, that she does not want to engage with the Perry at this time. If not now, on the best issue for her, when?

We all know that Rick Perry couldn’t lead a pack of starving dogs to a side of beef, but luckily for him he has a primary opponent – a theoretical one, anyway – that likes to keep her powder really, really, really dry. I’m sure she’ll have something to say about this eventually, once she figures out what it is.

Speaking of Burka, I’d like to recall these words of his from late May, when the word “chubbing” first entered our vocabularies.

As everyone knows, the Democrats’ stalling tactics are an attempt to derail the Voter I.D. bill. It won’t work. This is Friday. They have to chub until Tuesday midnight. Not a chance.

And even if the Democrats were to succeed in chubbing Voter I.D. to death and other bills the D’s don’t like (TDI Sunset, Top 10 Percent), it wouldn’t matter. Perry will call a special session to pass the voter ID bill. Why are they fighting battles that they can’t win–and, worse, will hand Perry a victory?

As we now know, the Democrats did successfully chub through Tuesday at midnight; in fact, they were so successful at pushing voter ID off the calendar that they eased up on the brakes towards the end. And as we also now know, voter ID will not be taken up in this special session, and barring anything unusual it won’t be taken up at all again. I had my reservations about this choice of strategy as well – I thought if there was any chance of beating it in a vote, which might have happened with the Rs having only 74 voting members due to Rep. Kuempel’s heart attack, it should have been taken – and for the same reason, but in the end a successful strategy is one that works. This one worked, and I think that should be recognized.

Finally, in the matter of things that deserved a second chance but didn’t get one, I’ve pasted a press release from Rep. Garnet Coleman regarding CHIP beneath the fold. KBH may not know how to attack Rick Perry’s lack of leadership, but Coleman certainly doesn’t suffer from that malady.

UPDATE: In case anyone was curious, Governor Perry is satisfied with how the session went, as is Speaker Straus.

Special Session a Missed Opportunity to Insure Texas Children

I am beyond disappointed that Governor Perry did not expand the call for the Special Session to include legislation regarding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). During the special session, I filed House Bill 11 which would have created a CHIP “buy-in” for uninsured children from working families who earn between 200 – 300 percent of federal poverty level. Unfortunately, the Governor once again failed to act and chose to ignore the health of Texas children.

Texas is an embarrassing first in the nation when it comes to children without health insurance. One in four Texas children is uninsured.

HB 11 could have moved quickly through both chambers since the language of the bill was included in both Sen. Averitt’s (R-Waco) SB 841 that passed out of the Senate and Rep. Coleman’s HB 2962 that passed out of the House during the 81st Regular Session. Additionally, 75 House members sent a letter to the Governor requesting he add CHIP to the Special Session.

The Comptroller had released a revised revenue estimate for the First Called Session of the 81st Legislature, noting that $359.1 million remains un-appropriated and available for general-purpose spending in the 2010 – 11 biennium. Clearly, both the resources and legislative will existed to pass this legislation.

The special session was a missed opportunity to insure 80,000 Texas children. It is inexcusable that the Governor didn’t consider the health care of our children a pressing matter. Our children cannot afford to be uninsured any longer.

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