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Still no call to expand the call

Rick Perry may yet expand the call of the special session, but so far he’s sticking to his script about dealing with redistricting first.


Gov. Rick Perry is leaving the door open for more items on the agenda of the newly called special legislative session, but he said Friday he wants lawmakers to bring him specific proposals that have a chance of passage before putting more on their plate.

“We’re not going to be adding things to the call just for the sake of adding things to the call,” Perry said. “We want to be relatively assured that we’re going to be successful.”

The governor, speaking to reporters at an event highlighting the state’s emergency response capabilities, was asked if he would consider adding to the agenda a fix for the troubled Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, or TWIA, the state’s insurer of last resort for coastal residents.

Perry said that was “certainly possible,” but added that he wanted lawmakers to “get a little closer to what I would consider to be an agreement” before he’ll add the item to the agenda.

While the governor signaled it was “still a little premature” to speculate about expanding the session beyond redistricting — the only issue eligible for action right now — he said other priorities may soon emerge.

“There may be something, whether it’s on the budget, or whether it’s another piece of legislation that ends up being vetoed, or line-item vetoed, that we want to put back on the call and say, hey, you know we didn’t agree with this, let’s see if we can find a way to fix it,” Perry said.

To me at least, that doesn’t suggest that he’s considering the addition of all those wingnut wish list items that David Dewhurst and others are begging for, but then he could just be playing it close to the vest. Texas Politics expands on this, and also provides a peek at Perry’s thoughts on the one item that is on the agenda at this time.

Perry said he wants to drill down to the needs and “TWIA is one of those needs, frankly, that we have in this state.”

He added that “we’re not going to bring it forward until we get a little closer to what I would consider to be an agreement between the disparate groups that are out there.”

Perry responded to reporters’ questions at a news conference after a state emergency readiness activation exercise at Austin Bergstrom International Airport as part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Regarding TWIA, the insurer of last resort for windstorms, Perry said that “it’s one that we have spent a lot of time working on and trying to find a solution to. It’s a complex issue, as diverse as this state is, with the huge exposure that we have along the Gulf Coast.

“Let me just leave it — it is a possibility as a special session item, but still a little premature in the session to be naming any additional issues that we have,” he said.

Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said previously that Perry had told him TWIA would be part of a special-session agenda if one were called. Only Perry has the authority to call lawmakers into special session, as he did on redistricting, and to set the agenda, which he hasn’t yet expanded.

Perry also was asked about discussion among lawmakers that while he could call a special session on a particular subject such as redistricting, that he couldn’t restrict its scope to only ratifying the interim court-drawn maps.

His call for the session specified ratification of those maps, a move advised by GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott. Democrats and minority interests have protested the idea.

“The intent of the call was very clear,” said Perry, who has the power to veto legislation that doesn’t suit him.

That sounds like a contradiction of the Senate’s opinion that while Perry can set the agenda, he can’t dictate what the actual legislation looks like. If the Lege sends him a redistricting bill that alters either the House or Congressional districts, especially with Democratic amendments, it’ll be interesting to see if he vetoes it. Definitely worth keeping an eye on this.

Meanwhile, the House had its redistricting hearing yesterday, and once again Greg brought the liveblogging. Here’s the House committee’s tentative schedule, which suggests a bill could be voted out as soon as June 7, after which it would be debated by the full House. Committee Chair Rep. Drew Darby was interviewed about the process afterwards, and you can listen to the audio of that here. We’re all still in the positioning phase, but things will start to get real once amendments and possibly alternative maps get formally proposed. Texas Redistricting has more.

UPDATE: Here’s Greg’s Liveblog Part II, covering today’s House committee hearing.

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