Immigration, health care may be part of special session

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on May 30, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 31 at 8:41 AM

A special legislative session is all but guaranteed as state lawmakers failed to resurrect a school finance bill on Monday, the last day of the regular session.

Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) launched a filibuster Sunday night objecting to school finances, leading to stalemate in the Senate.

"For the first time ever, we are not funding student population growth," she said during her marathon address to colleagues.

But Davis and her fellow Democrats may not like what's on the special session agenda.

Her filibuster lasted just one hour and 15 minutes, but Davis took the debate past midnight, effectively killing the potential last-minute change to spread out $4 billion in cuts to public education.

Davis told News 8 before the session began in January that saving public schools would be her top priority. "If we do take away public education funding this time, shame on us," she said. "It should be the last place we take a dollar out of our budget."

Gov. Rick Perry called Davis a "show horse" who made it tougher to get work done in the legislature's final days.

And with the power to call a special session for any item he wants, the governor said he was considering bringing back an immigration bill to ban "sanctuary cities" and healthcare reform that limits federal mandates.

"We still have time to get the work done today," Perry said on Monday. "She [Davis] raised the hurdle. That's her call, and I'm sure the members of the legislature that will be back here in special session will have appropriate things to say to her."

At an afternoon news conference, Davis stood with fellow Democrats from the House and Senate. She that vowed the fight over education funding was not over, and the special session would expose the issues with how Texas pays for its public schools.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it would take a miracle to avoid a special session, and admitted Republicans did not have the 25 votes in the 31-member Senate to override some rules and avoid another filibuster on school finance.

Dewhurst was planning on starting work again Tuesday morning, and said he was going to meet with the governor to find out what items would be on the call for the session.

Gov. Perry could set the agenda at any time.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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