Earlier speculation was that Perry would wait to call a special session until after the Republican primary. Now, according to a couple of sources who are usually knowledgeable about the goings-on in the governor’s office, Perry wants a short special session around a month from now – I’d say between the Fourth of July holiday and July 20, which is the first day of the NCSL meeting in Philadelphia. The NCSL trip is a good incentive for lawmakers to get their business done in a hurry. The call would be limited to two items: the Sunset safety net bill and authorization for the $2 billion in highway bonds. Voter ID? Probably not. He has to prepare for a general election campaign as well as a primary, and putting the spotlight on a partisan political issue would not help him.
If this comes to pass, it seems like a pretty good strategy to me. Opening the call to more issues is always risky business for a governor. Perry has not fared well in previous special sessions; readers may remember when Keffer offered the governor’s school finance plan and it was voted down without a single aye vote. Get them into town fast, get them out of town fast – that’s the right plan for a special session.
There could be some tough votes ahead. Democrats are already unhappy that the review of worker’s comp was pushed back in the safety net bill, as was scrutiny of the Texas Department of Insurance. These will be contentious issues. I would not be surprised to see other Sunset reviews delayed as well. Perry is running in 2010 for a term that expires in January 2015. He is a very hands-on governor when it comes to running the executive branch. If he can put off the Sunset scrutiny of the controversial agencies until the end of his term, he won’t have to put up with criticism of TxDOT or Democratic pro-consumer proposals for the Department of Insurance.