orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Opinion

June 29, 2013

Sen. Robert Nichol - My five cents...

ORANGE — In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's character wakes up again and again only to find he is stuck living the same day until he finally gets the day right. With Governor Perry now announcing a second special session shortly after the first special session which was shortly  after the regular session, I think the entire legislature is beginning to feel like we are stuck in groundhog day!

Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:

1) First special session ends; Second begins

Tuesday marked the end of the first special legislative session. However, of the four issues Gov. Perry had charged the legislature to address (redistricting, transportation funding, pro-life issues and criminal sentences for 17-year-olds who commit felonies), only redistricting had been resolved. Therefore, on Thursday the governor announced a second special session to begin on July 1. The sole purpose will be to address the three issues from the first special which went uncompleted, and just as with all special sessions, this one could last up to 30 days. I will keep you updated as we progress.  

2) A filibuster to remember

An interesting (and historic) thing happened Tuesday as we wound down the first special. Sen. Wendy Davis of Ft. Worth spoke on the floor continuously for more than 12 hours in what we refer to as a filibuster. A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure where debate is extended, allowing a member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a specific bill. In Sen. Davis' case, she was attempting to prevent a vote on pro-life legislation.

While Sen. Davis has received a lot of attention for this action, she certainly isn't the first to do so. Interestingly, the record for longest filibuster was set by Texas State Sen. Bill Meier in 1977 with an unbelievable 43 hours speaking continuously on the Senate floor. This was an especially impressive feat considering Senate rules dictate you can't eat, drink, or leave the area around your desk while speaking (including to go to the restroom!). Unfortunately for Sen. Meier, the bill he was protesting against passed as soon as he sat down.

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