Ogden Speaks Out on Special Session

By: Cody Lillich Email
By: Cody Lillich Email

The 82nd Legislative Session is not quite over - instead lawmakers will be heading back to the capitol to take up some unfinished business. Governor Rick Perry declared a special session to start at 8a.m. Tuesday in Austin.

On the top of his agenda, a bill similar to the one that Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, used a filibuster on in the senate on Sunday night. State Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan and the senate's chief budget writer, said he thinks the move to filibuster was the wrong one.

"My reaction was it was certainly within her right to do that but it was certainly a political mistake," Ogden said. "I think it's given the governor the opportunity, because the governor controls all special sessions. He's the only one who determines what we can consider.

"It gives him (Gov. Perry) the opportunity to not only address the immediate problem, but several other problems that didn't get addressed during the session. One of which is congressional redistricting. There's going to be a lot of legislation that's ultimately reconsidered because of what I think was a political mistake by Senator Davis."

At a news conference, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, went on the offensive, attacking the state budget controlled by Republicans.

"Our legislature has failed to be leaders and our legislature has acted instead as a group of politicians interested in their own political advancements," she said.

Since Sen. Davis filibustered Senate Bill 1811, if a special session were not called, public schools would receive no funding for the upcoming year in September.

"The biggest issue is the $31 billion Sen. Wendy Davis cut out of the budget last night (Sunday)," Ogden said. "I've got to re-appropriate at least that much so that the schools will not only be able to open, but will be able to operate. The entire appropriations for public schools was contingent on that bill (SB 1811) passing and since she (Sen. Wendy Davis) killed that bill, she killed the entire appropriation for the foundation school program and so she's the biggest budget cutter in the history of the state.

"She knew she was cutting off all the funding to the schools, which I personally think is pretty irresponsible but we'll have to fix that," he said.

While the main point of the special session is the school funding, Ogden expects more items to be added to the session.

"I think throughout the day the governor will be adding additional items to the call," he said. "We're going to have to address congressional redistricting sooner or later and I expect that to come up shortly after he (Perry) tells us to go fund the schools."

Ogden said another item the legislature will probably be tasked with addressing is wind insurance for people along the coast. Such insurance could be brought up at a key time for the state with hurricane season starting on Wednesday.

"We've got a problem along the coast in that our hurricane insurance that the state provides the homeowners along the coast is broke," Ogden said. "Eventually, we're going to have to fix that insurance called TWIA, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association."

If more items are added to the call, as expected, legislators could be spending a good chunk of summer in Austin.

"I think this could take several weeks," Ogden said. "I think what's going to happen is the governor's going to keep adding things to the call. The Governor is in complete control here. The democrats handed him that gift and we'll just see what he wants to do with it."

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