With loud cheers and a hint of trepidation, the 83rd Texas Legislature gaveled to a close May 27, as lawmakers prepared to celebrate the end of their 140-day session while waiting for a near-certain special session to be called within the next 24 hours.
Senators and state reps applauded what some considered to be a productive session, in which they passed legislation dealing with water issues, public school testing and education reform, mental health, tax cuts, and the budget.
"I think it's been a good session when I think about the needs of my district in terms of things like education funding and water," said Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park. "Those are important to our area, and education in particular was a big issue during the campaign."
Lawmakers anticipate taking up redistricting and, potentially, other issues if Gov. Rick Perry calls them back to Austin, which is expected.
But they took time Monday to celebrate the accomplishments that state leaders said addressed many of the session priorities.
Lawmakers spent much of the final day—in which rules allow little more than technical corrections and no major legislation—taking photos, signing posters and thanking their neglected families, many of whom were in the gallery to help them celebrate the last hours of their regular session.
"Thank you sweetheart!" Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, said to her husband from the floor microphone. "I love you, and we're a good team! We work together!"
House Speaker Joe Straus praised the members and thanked them for their work during the session.
"Because of the decisions the House made Sunday, Texas is significantly closer to having the water supply needed to respond to severe droughts and to encourage private-sector growth," Straus said. "The House has focused on the core responsibilities of government throughout this session, and I am grateful that members have worked in a collaborative way to successfully address the issues that matter most to the people of Texas."