Legislative Session Winds Down, Key Issues Addressed

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- They say nothing in the Texas Legislature can be declared dead until the final day. Lawmakers tested that limit Monday.

Legislators embarked on the last day of the 2009 session with big unfinished business: approval of a hurricane insurance compromise and a lingering dispute over the future of the Texas Department of Transportation and other state agencies. Failure to deal with those issues by today's midnight adjournment deadline could have meant a return to Austin for a special legislative session.

But, as they're apt to do, legislators got moving and got to work in the nick of time, saving crucial bills before adjournment.

One serious matter they addressed at the last minute was an overhaul of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the only wind insurer for property owners in 14 coastal counties and part of Harris County. The state-chartered fund filled a gap when private insurers pulled away from the coast. It was depleted last year by hurricanes Ike and Dolly.

The Senate unanimously approved a compromise plan for TWIA Monday -- the first day of hurricane season. The House had done so last night.

Meanwhile, the House used a desperation tactic Monday to get out of a procedural stalemate and possibly avert a special session to keep several state agencies operating, including the Texas Department of Transportation. The measure allows key state agencies to stay alive until the next regularly scheduled session in 2011.

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