Local lawmakers react to chaotic end of special session
POSTED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 4:44pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 4:45pm
East Texas (KETK) — East Texas lawmakers are speaking out about the controversial conclusion to the special session, which ended at midnight on Tuesday night.
Here's what some East Texas lawmakers had to say, prior to Governor Perry calling a second special session:
Senator Robert Nichols, District 3:
“I am disappointed that the Senate failed to address a number of important issues last night. As chairman of Senate Transportation, I find it particularly unfortunate that SJR 2 did not pass. Congestion on our state highways is increasing daily and the system is in need of maintenance. This measure would have been a step in the right direction toward finding a long-term transportation funding solution, and had strong, bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature. I look forward to continuing to work diligently on the matter."
Senator Kevin Eltife, District 1:
"Although we passed and sent to the Governor redistricting legislation, I was disappointed in the outcome of the Special Session. The fact that the additional issues of transportation funding, abortion and juvenile sentencing laws were added to the agenda with only two weeks left in the session made it difficult to pass that legislation."
Representative Bryan Hughes, District 5:
"As it got closer to midnight, the protestors becaume more rowdy and unruly. Around 11:30, they began to yell, scream and stomp their feet to the point that you could not hear what was happening on the Senate floor.
Free speech is important in America. We recognize the right to debate. We have the right to disagree. But in the end, we have to take a vote and the majority wins. The protestors were warned about their behavior. It's one thing to cheer or to boo, but I have never before seen an attempt to stop the proceedings. Because the protestors were so loud and so unruly, and were even being cheered on by some members of the legislature, they prevented the vote from going forward until the last minute. The votes were ultimately too late to be counted. They took over the process and took away the will of the people of Texas.
When they did that, they killed not only this bill [abortion], but also transportation, and the juvenile court legislation. I've never seen anything like this. To be blunt, by waiting so long to bring these bills to the floor, we put these protestors in the position where they were able to kill it.
I believe there will be a second special session. When it became clear that this bill was not going to make it through the Senate, we began talking to the Governor. Governor Perry has been getting calls from lawmakers as well as the general public, urging him to bring us back - and I believe that he will. I believe he should call us back and should continue to call us back, no matter how long it takes to get these bills passed.
It's an honor for me to get to do this. I've heard from my constituents, and I am so encouraged. They are for this bill. The people of East Texas want it. The Governor needs to call us back and we need to get this job done."
Representative Matt Shaefer, District 6:
"Governor Perry will have to take affirmative action to say get back down here, get the work done, we have the majority of the support and we need to get across the finish line."
Representative David Simpson, District 7:
"I did support the [abortion] bill. It is the first duty of civil government to protect life, especially innocent life.
It is also important for us as lawmakers to uphold the rule of law. The legislative process honors both the majority and the minority parties, but procedures seemed to break down on both sides last night. Toward the end of the evening, things began to fall apart. The outbursts from the gallery were deafening and people needed to be removed from the room. Unfortunately, some legislators on the floor were even encouraging the outbursts to continue. In the end, the filibuster was by the people in the gallery and not by Senator Davis on the floor.
It would be difficult to say whether it would be the right environment to move forward with a second special session. It might be a Pyrrhic victory, which means that the victory would be so costly that we wouldn't be able to withstand another one. This shouldn't condone anarchy, but I think we should take the high road. I believe in the cause, but I also believe in doing the right thing and doing it the right way.
Ultimately, we brought this on ourselves. We could have worked Saturday, but recessed and didn't return until Sunday. We waited until the last minute to address these issues. What happened last night is a lesson to both republicans and democrats, and to both the Senate and the House. I hope we can learn from it and do better."