Lawmakers move quickly in second special session

Lawmakers are working quickly on legislation that deals with transportation funding, abortion restrictions and juvenile justice during the Texas Legislature's second special session, which convened July 1. Gov. Rick Perry called the session after lawmakers failed to pass those bills during the first special session in June.

The price tag

At a cost of about $30,000 per day, a 30-day special session can cost taxpayers more than $1 million. The price includes $150 per diem for each lawmaker for food and living expenses in Austin, though a handful choose not to take the pay when they are not in Austin for session work.

A special session can only be called by the governor and cannot last more than 30 days. Lawmakers met July 1 to open the second session, then adjourned a little more than an hour later until July 9.

The first round

The regular session of the

83rd Legislature ended May 27, but Perry called lawmakers back to the Capitol immediately to deal with the state's interim district maps, redrawn last year by judges who said the initial 2011 maps were unconstitutional.

Halfway through the special session, Perry added transportation funding, abortion and juvenile justice to the call.

Lawmakers did approve the state's redistricting maps, but other bills were bogged down in the session's final hours.

An 11-hour filibuster by Fort Worth Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis targeted the abortion bill, and, as a result, derailed any attempts to pass bills that were not connected to redistricting.

Abortion limitations

A House committee passed the abortion bill after a contentious hearing in which thousands signed up to testify. A Senate committee is expected to take up the bill July 8.

The legislation requires clinics to meet the same standards of care as ambulatory surgery centers and bans abortions after 20 weeks' gestation. The House could take up the bill in a floor vote as early as July 9.

Transportation, justice

Senators used the first week of the second special session to get less controversial measures out of the way. The Texas Department of Transportation has estimated that it needs about $4 billion in additional funding each year to maintain roads, but lawmakers have been stymied on how to find the funds and failed to reach a deal during the regular session.

A bill passed by a Senate committee during the first week of the second special session asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would divert part of the state's oil-and-gas severance taxes to highway funding, generating about $1 billion a year for highways.

Currently, all of that money goes to the state's rainy day fund.

A Senate committee also approved a measure that closes a loophole in juvenile justice law regarding 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean that 17-year-olds cannot get life in prison without parole, so lawmakers are trying to bring Texas in line with those decisions.



MOST RECENT

As part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely nationwide, the department’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option is being expanded beyond the summertime. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USDA extends free school meals provision through 2021-22 school year

Schools nationwide will be able to serve nutritious meals to all students free of charge regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2022, officials announced.

Ochna Health Direct Primary Care relocated on April 5 to 1821 Westinghouse Road, Ste. 1190, Georgetown. (Courtesy Ochna Health)
Ochna Health Direct Primary Care relocates within Georgetown

The business offers telemedicine, laboratory services and prescription medication services.

Williamson County will close its mass-vaccination sites. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County commissioners to close mass-vaccination sites

The county judge expects to have everyone who wants to be vaccinated to receive the shot by May 21.

Georgetown ISD parents call for removal of mask mandate. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Georgetown ISD keeping mask mandate despite parents speaking out

The district is keeping its policy for safety, but some parents say masks have a negative effect on kids.

Georgetown ISD has completed four more projects of the 16 additional bond projects. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Georgetown ISD completes 4 more of 16 additional bond projects

The board approved the 16 additional projects in January.

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.(Community Impact staff)
Nearly half of Williamson County is vaccinated, but positivity rate climbs again

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.

GISD plans for in-person summer learning starting in June. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Georgetown ISD plans for in-person summer learning

Georgetown ISD is working on plans for in-person summer learning with a low teacher-to-student ratio.

Blue Corn Harvest Leander is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blue Corn Harvest opens in Leander; park, pizzeria launches social club and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

BuckWild Designs specializes in making customizable tumblers, coasters, wine and beer glasses, and more. (Courtesy BuckWild Designs)
BuckWild Designs now open in Georgetown

The business opened in March.

The Pushing for Justice Caravan for Javier Ambler was held in San Gabriel Park on Aug. 15. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Javier Ambler’s Law awaits Texas Senate approval

The bill passed the House on April 15.

Jack Allen's Kitchen will be at 1345 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. (Rendering courtesy Jack Allen's Kitchen)
7 restaurants coming to Cedar Park, Leander; new murals to go up in Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the Central Texas area from the past week.