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TX Sen. Lucio Questions Senate Schedule for Monday, Tuesday

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

With Hurricane Emily bearing down on South Texas and the Texas Gulf Coast, Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) questioned today what the Senate's schedule might be for the rest of today and tomorrow. His questions came up as the Senate was about to recess until 1:30 p.m. today.

He raised a parliamentary inquiry of Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), who was presiding in the Senate, if she had "any indication what our schedule is going to be for the rest of this day and tomorrow morning." Given the hurricane's path toward the senatorial districts of some members, Lucio said, "Some of us might not be here."

Nelson said that probably when the Senate returns at 1:30 p.m. today, a conference committee will be appointed on SB 62, which limits the power of eminent domain to take personal property for economic development needs. She said the Senate also might take up joint resolutions at that time.

Lucio next asked Nelson if she had any information "that would indicate we might have any reports on conference committees that are deliberating at this time," which includes the conference committees on HB 2, the public school reform bill, and HB 3, the accompanying tax bill. Officials reported this morning that conferees are "close" on HB 3 and that the Senate conferees are awaiting word from House conferees if they will accept a Senate proposal offered in the early hours this morning.

"We sure hope to have more information at 1:30," responded Nelson, " but I'm telling you what I know."

Lucio said some Senate members from South Texas and the Valley area are planning to leave tonight to return home because of the approaching hurricane. He added that one of those senators today was wearing tennis shoes. "I'm not sure if he will be racing to get back home of if he has an ulterior motive." Several Democratic senators have threatened to filibuster on HB 3 over some key elements of the bill, including the amount of a proposed sales tax increase. Tennis shoes are a "warning" from members of their intent to filibuster.

"We're not advised on any action," said Nelson, but she also noted that she was advised by the Senate Parliamentarian that even if the conference committee reports are filed today, "They will not be eligible until tomorrow." The Senate has a 24-hour layout rule for conference committee reports filed during a special session.

Lucio asked for information for those in the gallery regarding how long the special session can last.

"Midnight Wednesday is the last day," responded Nelson.

"If we don't resolve the issues that are on the table..." began Lucio.

"That will be the end of this special session..." Nelson finished his sentence.