With legislative adjournment looming on Monday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he wants Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session to seek passage of failed legislation insisted upon by conservative Republicans.
In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Republican Dewhurst said he wants to revive legislation that would require drug tests for welfare recipients, allow students with concealed-handgun licenses to carry guns into campus buildings and further restrict the availability of abortions.
He also wants a do-over on political redistricting, school vouchers, a tighter constitutional cap on state spending and an end to the state windstorm insurance program "without a rate shock."
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Dewhurst said he told Perry "that there were a number of bills blocked by Democrats, and we need to come back in a special session and pass them."
"I think he's seriously considering doing that," Dewhurst said, but "I obviously don't speak for Gov. Perry. I'll let him best speak for himself."
Regarding the drug-test requirement for welfare recipients, Democrats blocked the bill because "it was bad public policy," said state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie and the second-ranking Democrat in the Texas House. "It was a solution in search of a problem."
A bill must have a two-thirds majority in the Senate to come to the Senate floor, so 12 Democrats are enough to block measures. However, the two-thirds rule doesn't apply in special sessions.
As for the on-campus concealed-carry bill, state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin and chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said Dewhurst has been told repeatedly that the bill lacks the votes to come to the floor. "Yet he continues working on it," he said.
Perry's deputy press secretary, Josh Havens, told the Star-Telegram that he was unaware of Dewhurst's proposal but said Perry wouldn't reveal any plans until after Monday's adjournment.
"It's too early to be talking about the probability of a special session," he said.
Perry has said that without significant tax breaks and $2 billion to jump-start a new water fund -- which a new budget deal includes -- he would haul lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special summer session. However, Perry has not said if the deal reached last Friday satisfies his demands.
The lieutenant governor is the second-highest office in the Texas state government and presides over the Texas Senate. Dewhurst, who has occupied the office since 2003, also said in the interview that he will formally announce plans to seek re-election shortly after the regular session of the Legislature adjourns. That would scotch any speculation that he would run for governor if Perry chose not to seek re-election.