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Friday, June 14, 2013 - 1:26pm
Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday there is no time left in the ongoing special session to expand the agenda.
“I think everything has been added to the call that can be added to the call,” the governor told reporters after a bill-signing ceremony at the Capitol. “I guess we could add a lot of things to the call, but the fact is the House is out until Monday. I think from a practical standpoint those last issues that we put on the call are the last practical things that can be done.”
Besides redistricting, Perry added three additional issues to the agenda this week: transportation funding, abortion restrictions and criminal sentencing for certain juveniles. Lawmakers had been urging the governor to include more issues, including gun rights, private school vouchers and new financing for university construction through tuition revenue bonds.
But with the session set to expire in less than two weeks, those items — and anything beyond what’s under consideration now — appear to be dead.
Perry was also asked during the press conference about his threat to veto state funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, which investigates fraud and corruption in state government. The unit is slated to get about $7.5 million from the state over the next two years, but Perry is threatening to eliminate the funding unless embattled Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg steps down. Lehmberg served a brief jail sentence after pleading guilty in April to drunken driving.
Prosecutors say taking away the state funds from the unit would cripple its ability to prosecute hundreds of cases involving public corruption, insurance fraud and white-collar crimes involving government agencies or programs.
Perry said that if he zeroes out their funding, Travis County prosecutors would be faced with transferring money from other sources into the Public Integrity Unit, or simply paring down their caseload.
"I will suggest to you if that line item were to be removed then Travis County would have to prioritize whether they think those cases are important enough to go forward with or some other cases, so that would be their call,” Perry said. The deadline for Perry to sign or veto bills is Sunday.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/06/13/no-time-expanding-session-agenda-perry/.