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Still A Chance For Non-Redistricting Bills In Special Session

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

A leading expert on government from the University of Texas at Austin's Office of Governmental Relations is weighing in on this summer’s special session and if the legislature can expect to see legislation beyond redistricting.

Barry McBee, UT-Austin’s vice chancellor of governmental relations, said there is still plenty of time for various discussions during this special session.

"When you look historically at special sessions--for example the 81st Legislature there was a two-day special session that knocked out some transportation funding and sunset issues. So they could conclude redistricting on the 17th, 18th or 19th and still have a week for other items," McBee said.

Those additional items range from reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to various gun and abortion bills that were killed during the regular session.

McBee said his assessment of the special session includes Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's recent trip to France.

"It was perhaps unusual for the lieutenant governor to depart the country, but again, given what the Senate is engaged in at the present time there’s no real absence of leadership," McBee said.

Dewhurst was the first to announce a list of socially-conservative bills he hoped to see added to the special session agenda. McBee said once the redistricting issue is resolved, Democrats are not required to stay for any other agenda item.

"My sense is that the atmosphere this session has been so much more collegial, and again one would hope if there is other business to be take care for the state they would stay," he said.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.