Legislature Wraps Up Special Session in 2 Days

The Texas Legislature adjourned a two-day special session on Thursday.

Two of the issues assigned to it by Gov. Rick Perry were adopted before the adjournment. Legislators passed a bill to keep five important state agencies operating for the next two years and a measure authorizing the state to spend $2 billion in bonds to build new roads.

In a statement, Perry said he was pleased lawmakers passed the two measures.

The first bill will save the Texas Department of Transportation, the Department of Insurance and three other agencies from abolition. State law requires the Legislature to regularly review and reauthorize state agencies, but lawmakers failed to renew them during the regular session that ended June 1 because of partisan bickering.

The road bonds were already approved by voters statewide in 2007, but the Legislature still needed to authorize the spending.

Perry called the special session to deal with those two bills and another transportation measure. But the third measure, which would allow the state to continue contracting for privately built toll roads, never made it out of committee.

Contracts known as Comprehensive Development Agreements have been used to finance, build and operate toll roads and other projects. But opponents of such contracts worry they take control away from local governments.

Perry and his staff met with lawmakers in an attempt to revive the bill, but with no luck, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.

Rep. Phil King, a Weatherford Republican, said he and others have been flooded with constituent e-mail opposed to the CDAs.

Sen. John Carona, chairman of Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, said CDAs can be looked at again in 2011.

"No major project is going to be left behind between now and 2011," he said.

In a statement, Perry said he hoped the passage of the bill would reduce uncertainty about several major projects across the state.

"Although the CDA bill did not pass, we will continue to work with legislators and local officials to find transportation solutions for our state," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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