AUSTIN, Texas - The Special Session sprint in the state Senate briefly came to a grinding halt Monday morning.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick got things underway in the Senate Monday afternoon after a nearly 4 hour delay. Patrick and Republican senators spent the morning trying to decide which of the remaining 19 items in Governor Abbott's call would be debated first. The least controversial on the list was chosen.
"The chair lays out for second reading Senate Bill 17,” said the lt. Governor.
SB17- sponsored by Senator Lois Kolkhorst extends the life of a commission that's studying maternal mortality.
"We’ve seen some real strides made in other states and that's taking some their best practices and incorporating it into our's." said the Republican form Benham.
The strategy appeared to involve pushing debate on controversial issues-later into the afternoon and evening. Things like the Bathroom Bill and new Abortion Regulations. But the idea failed to speed things up. Democrats were offering several amendments and by 5:00 pm, only 3 of 16 items slated for Monday had been considered.
On the other side of the dome, House members held their first floor debate and vote. Passage of HB1 a sunset bill to keep several agencies open was the main reason for this special session. With that job essentially done, and 20 days left in the session, the political gamesmanship is expected to ramp up.
"I do think there is still bipartisan support in the House for public school finance reform that certainly a top priority of Democrats in the house, because we know public school finance reform is A, important for public schools. B, it is how you deliver meaningful property tax relief in the long run and the maternal mortality task force I believe has good bipartisan support, outside of that I think a lot of these issues were considered in the regular session and didn't pass because they didn't have support,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner.
A full day of House Committee hearings is scheduled for Tuesday. While the pace has now picked up in both chambers, differences in priorities remain.
As a result time may run out on this 30 day special session preventing some of the most controversial bills from reaching the Governor's desk.
There's been a lot of talk the past few days about Democrats leaving town to break quorum. Party leaders have told FOX7 that is an extreme option and currently it's not being seriously considered, at least not now.