Special sessions are an interesting phenomenon: Rather than having multiple policy areas vying for legislators' attention, we are able to concentrate all our energy on a narrow number of topics.
Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:
• Vetoes, signatures and more
Did you know that 5,868 bills were filed in the Legislature this session, and 1,437 of those were then passed by both chambers and sent to the governor? Of that number, 206 have been signed and 2 have been vetoed. As I write this column, Gov. Perry has over 1,200 bills left to decide what to do with before June 16th. If he takes no action upon them by that date, they automatically become law. I will be sure to keep you updated of any developments.
• Water Treaty with Mexico unenforced
What does an obscure 70-year-old water treaty between the U.S. and Mexico have to do with today's Texas' economy? Quite a lot, it seems. The document, otherwise known as the "Treaty of the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande," requires Mexico to release an average of over 114 billion gallons of water a year to the U.S. from six tributaries that feed into the Rio Grande.
However, Mexico is currently behind on these releases. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), they have decreased steadily since 2010. During 2010, 82 percent of the water was delivered, but that fell to 29 percent the next year and six percent the next. If this continues, the South Texas agriculture industry, as well as area municipal water supplies, could be in grave danger.
Gov. Perry, Ag. Commissioner Todd Staples, Sen. John Cornyn and others have all separately asked President Obama to intercede and ask Mexico to comply, but so far nothing has been done. Let us hope he will take action soon.