The 84th Texas Legislative Session came to a close Monday at the state capitol. Tax breaks and guns dominated the debate in year when nearly 6,000 bills were filed.
A delegation from the state Senate - Monday morning-was the first to notify Gov Greg Abbott that the 84thsession of the Texas legislature was wrapping up. Later a House delegation made a similar trip to the Senate chamber. The 140 days of debate under the capitol dome closed with no regrets from Speaker Joe Straus.
"I think everyone leaves here with a sense of accomplishment. The Senate, I think, feels good about their work, the House feels good about ours and I think the governor is very pleased with our record," said Speaker Straus.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said with legislation to beef up border security -along with tax cuts and several reform bills - the session was a success.
"I think we checked off every box that we campaigned on," said Lt. Gov. Patrick.
"With more money to work with this session had only a few political bumps to deal with. Tax cuts, education funding, and gun rights were among the top issues that caused some heated debate."
"We had opportunities to do more to bring our public schools back up to where there were prior to the 2011 funding cuts, we did not do that - had opportunities to pay our physicians who take care of Medicaid patients we did not increase that reimbursement rate, lots of things I think were big disappoints that we had opportunities to do and chose not to and left of money the table we could have used," said Rep. Donna Howard (D) Austin.
Along with the regrets there were also victories to celebrate.
"We put restrictions on capital appreciation bonds which are a big concern for my voters, and that was an important thing to address, we also passed first e verify bill to make sure only legal folks can get hired by the state of Texas, and probably the most important bill was to prevent the on line solicitation of minors," said Rep. Tony Dale (R) Cedar Park.
Monday afternoon Governor Abbott signed one of the biggest surprises of the session. A bill, allowing the limited use of cannabis oil for those with epileptic seizures, was one of the approx. 1,400 bills sent to his desk. Governor said CBD Oil may be able to help many people, but he also made it clear this isn't Colorado.
"I remain convince Texas should not legalize marijuana nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medical or medicinal purposes," said Abbott.
The governor also said there is no plan for a summer special session and doesn't expect to see state lawmakers back in Austin until 2017.
Four long time house members announced today they are not coming back Representatives Aycock, Farias, Fletcher and Turner. Their seats could become major battle grounds for Tea Party and Turn Texas Blue candidates.