Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum confirmed that Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden last week broached the subject of bringing seven Senate members to the budget conference committee.
"I told him I'm okay with that. I'm happy for the lieutenant governor to appoint seven," Chisum said. "Ya'll run your side and we'll run our side. We're happy for them to bring as many people as they want."
House rules call for 5 conferees, Chisum noted. But if the Senate brings more members, "it's semantics," he said. As the conference committee goes through each line of the budget, the conferees choose to "go with the House, go with the Senate" or work out a compromise. To Chisum's point of view, seven Senate conferees simply means that Ogden will have more members to confer with.
"All it means is we'll add two more lines for them to sign the conference committee report," Chisum said.
Ogden said that the expanded number was being considered "to accommodate all the diversity in the Senate." He noted that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will make the final decision, which could be announced as early as today.
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