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by Ziran
Sun May 24, 2009 12:04 am
Forum: 2009 Texas Legislative Session
Replies: 34
Views: 6727

Re: MOVING FROM GENERAL CALENDAR TO 'MAJOR' CALENDAR?? ... _taxpayers" onclick=";return false;

AUSTIN (KXAN) - The odds of a special session keep getting greater as House members run out the clock to avoid a vote on voter ID.

This is the first time in the history of Texas almost that you've seen a local calendar go two days," said Rep. Mike Hamilton, R-Mauriceville.

The House hasn't passed a major bill since Wednesday and spent a rainy Saturday afternoon debating bills that usually go uncontested. House Democrats are spending 9 1/2 minutes questioning the author of each local bill, the maximum amount of time allotted, in order to burn time and get Republicans ready for a deal on voter ID.

"It needs to be stopped legislatively, so we are using the tools we have in our toolbox to fight it," said Rep. Lon Burnam, Fort Worth.

The Democratic caucus has said they will vote to suspend rules and take up major bills, as long as voter ID isn't one of them. The controversial bill that requires voters bring photo identification to the polls is next up on the House calendar. "We are not going to change the calendar," said the Chair of the Calendars committee, Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano. McCall said he was shocked by the chubbing (the House's version of a filibuster) since he spent all session working with Democrats to get their bills to the floor for debate. "I'm frustrated," he said. "We're all frustrated."

Since the deadline for the House to pass any more state bills is Tuesday at midnight, the two sides could reach a compromise. However, some Republicans said they won't relent on seeing voter ID make it to the floor for a vote.

"My people sent me here to work, " said Rep. Rick Hardcastle, R-Vernon. "If some people's idea of work is playing games, then my folks expect me to saddle up and play."

There are still major bills waiting in queue, like Texas Windstorm Insurance, one of the Governor's emergency items. If it dies because the clock runs out, then a special session is likely. The estimated cost of a special session is $60,000 per day and each one can last up to 30 days.

Opponents of voter ID said it's worth it. "I'm not willing to kill people for defending the right to vote, but I'm more than willing to kill lots of bills defending the right to vote," said Burnam.