Dispatches from the Dome

Gov. Rick Perry has not said whether he will add anything besides redistricting to the agenda, known as the "call," for the special session—which was convened May 28 and which can only last 30 days.

Lawmakers are limited to the call when they go into a special session, which can only be called by the governor.

Perry has hinted at opening the session up to passing a bill reforming the Texas Wind Insurance Association, but says he would like for lawmakers to be close to a deal on the issue first.

Plenty of conservatives want Perry to add social issues such as abortion and gun rights to the call, but there is debate over whether he would do that at this stage.

A 30-day special session costs more than $1 million, and dividing lawmakers just as they are trying to accomplish redistricting could be seen as a time waster. Then again, Perry has a lot to gain by appearing strong on the social issues that were pushed aside during the regular session.

Campus-carry, just in case

The uncertainty of the call has not stopped one member of the Texas Legislature from filing wish list legislation.

Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Houston, filed the "campus carry" bill that would require college and university campuses to allow students with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons on campus.

The bill passed the House and was blocked in the Senate during the regular session, but there are different rules for the special session, and it is easier to pass legislation—giving controversial legislation a much easier path to the governor's desk.

Lawmakers may file any bill they want during a special, but anything that is not on the call is vulnerable to being killed on a technical ruling if someone objects. Fletcher filed his bill so that in the event Perry adds guns to the call, the House will be ready.

Budget gets one more stamp

The $198 billion budget approved by lawmakers in the final hours of the regular session has gotten one step closer toward becoming law. Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs certified the budget bills last week, meaning that she found them to be balanced in accordance with the Texas Constitution.

But her stamp of approval does not mean the budget is set. Perry has until June 16 to veto, and he can make line-item vetoes on the budget.

The comptroller does not always certify the budget. In 2003, lawmakers had to come back into a special session because then-Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn refused to certify the budget, and then ran for governor against Perry a few years later.

The strike of the pen

One thing that could hold up any announcement on adding to the call is the governor's power to veto legislation until the June 16 deadline. If he vetoes something that can be fixed easily, he can add it to the call.

Such as part of the budget. Or the entire budget.

It is anyone's guess what Perry may or may not veto in the next week, as he has not been shy with the veto pen in the past.

In 2001, his first year in office, Perry vetoed 82 bills after the end of the legislative session—more than any other Texas governor.

An override may occur if the bill has two-thirds support in both chambers, but the vote must take place after the veto in the same session, and it has not happened in decades.

Constitutional amendments are said to be fairly veto-proof because they must have a two-thirds majority to pass.

Quote of the week

"I am hopeful that, because of how crucial this bill is to the citizens of this state, Gov. Perry will expand the topic of this special session to include campus carry. Members of both parties joined together to pass this bill out of the House in early May. I am confident that, this time around, we can finally get this bill onto the governor's desk." —Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Houston