AUSTIN (June 26, 2013)—Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session of the Legislature Wednesday to take up abortion, transportation funding and criminal justice measures that died in the state Senate in the final chaotic hours of the first session Tuesday night.
The session begins Monday.
“I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas,” Perry said in announcing the specials session.
“Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do,” he said.
Lawmakers will again take up measures related to funding transportation projects, establishing a mandatory life sentence for 17-year-old capital murder defendants and imposing new restrictions on abortions.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said Perry’s call for another session “throws women under the bus again.”
“Governor Perry is willing to waste even more taxpayer dollars on a radical agenda he couldn't pass in regular session, and couldn't pass in his first special session,” Hinojosa said in a statement.
“The people have made exceedingly clear that they don’t support his attack on women. But as this last week has shown, we are ready to fight. And fight we will, while only further highlighting how out-of-touch Perry is with the majority of Texans,” he said.
The abortion measure was derailed Tuesday by a combination of a filibuster, a debate over the rules and a boisterous crowd of opponents in the gallery of the Senate chamber.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst acknowledged early Wednesday morning that Senate Republicans missed the deadline to pass the measure that would have imposed new restrictions on abortions in Texas after protesters screamed down lawmakers during the final 15 minutes of the special legislative session.
Senators from both parties emerged from a private meeting with Dewhurst early Wednesday and said they were about to officially acknowledge that fact.
Immediately following the vote, Republicans insisted they had started voting before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent much of Tuesday filibustering, but after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place Wednesday, and then were changed to read Tuesday, the senators convened for a private meeting.
Senate Bill 5 would have banned abortions 20 weeks after conception.
It also would have required abortion clinic physicians to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the facilities and that the clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
Pro-choice supporters said only about five the abortion clinics in the state would be able to meet the surgical center standards and said the effect of the bill would have been to shut down most of the clinics in Texas.
Hinojosa said earlier Wednesday the late-night showdown marked a new era for the party.
It “showed how we refuse to back down from a fight," he said.
“No longer is there room for doubt about whether Texas can be competitive in 2014, or whether Democrats will step up to demand a government that truly represents their interests,” he said.
More than 400 protesters erupted at 11:45 p.m. when Republicans suspended an 11-hour filibuster staged by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
The filibuster Tuesday made Davis an instant social media sensation around the U.S.
Davis, who started the filibuster at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday, has a reputation for being willing to spar with the state's dominant political party on issues such as education and women's health.
Davis, 50, started working at 14 to support a household of her single mother with three siblings.
By 19, she was already married and divorced with a child of her own.
After community college, she graduated from Texas Christian University before she was accepted to Harvard Law School from which she graduated with honors, her website says.