The First Called Special Session of the 83rd Legislature is ongoing. At this point, Governor Perry has assigned legislators the task of adopting the interim redistricting plans ordered by the federal district court as the permanent plans for districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate and United States House of Representatives. Public hearings have been held in Austin by committees in the House and Senate. Both committees are set to travel to other areas of the state for public hearings during the next two weeks.
Another reminder that Governor Perry has until June 16 to sign or veto bills from the regular session. Here’s a link to Texas Legislature Online where you can check the status of specific bills: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has certified that the two-year, $197 billion state budget adopted during the recent legislative session fits within available revenue, as required by the Texas Constitution.
Speaking of the Comptroller, Combs announced last week that she will not seek re-election and that she is retiring from public office at the end of her term in 2015. Combs, a former prosecutor and state representative, served as Texas Agriculture Commissioner from 1998 through 2006 when she was elected comptroller. The race to replace Combs is on with various people considering a run for the post. Republicans said to be considering the race include former gubernatorial contender Debra Medina, Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands); Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville), Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) and former Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.
Wondering what happened to the big school finance case in Texas? As you may recall, in February State District Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of more than 600 school districts that had sued the state over how it funds public education. Dietz found that the state violated the Texas Constitution by failing to fairly or sufficiently fund public schools. He also found that by shifting the funding burden to the local level, the system has created an unconstitutional statewide property tax. Fast forward to June and the parties still have no written decision. Judge Dietz has called the parties back together for a June 19th hearing to determine if actions taken during the recent legislative session affect his earlier ruling.