About an hour after the close of the second special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature -- the one where the state lege pushed through the antiabortion bill but choked again on transportation -- Gov. Rick Perry did what he said he would and called a third special session.
This move came after legislators failed to pass measures for transportation funding for the second special session in a row. (Which is kind of like flunking math in summer school and then going to the next summer school session and flunking it yet again.)
Roads always have the potential to be an issue, but transportation funding has gotten a big push from Perry because of the increased oilfield traffic from plays like the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the revived Permian Basin in West Texas, which has been a boost for the economy but bad for roads.
Democrats and Republicans had worked out a compromise for the second attempt to pass the legislation during the second special session -- a constitutional amendment to divert half the oil and gas revenue from the Rainy Day Fund toward road construction and maintenance that voters would vote on in 2014 -- but the compromise left people dissatisfied on both sides of the aisle, according to the Texas Tribune, hence the reason it failed to pass again.
"A plan was on the table that would have taken a significant step toward improving our roads and highways using existing revenue," Perry stated in a release issued Tuesday. "Inaction is a Washington-style attempt to kick a can down the road -- but everybody in Texas knows we're rapidly running out of roads to kick that can down. For those reasons, I'm calling the Legislature back into another special session immediately."
(Technically it's a Texas-style attempt since the lege is pretty much owning this whole failure-is-an-option thing.)
Perry must be ready to pull some of that perfect mop of hair right out of his head, but roads, while important, are nothing compared to the issues that have highlighted the other two special sessions this year.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, some lawmakers are griping about the $1.6 million bill for the first two special sessions, blaming Sen. Wendy Davis's filibuster at the end of the first special session, and arguing that Davis should pay for the second session, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Each special session can last up to 30 days and costs about $800,000, the Star-Telegram reports. Now lawmakers will have a third one to gripe about, but they can't blame this one on Davis.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.