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Roundup: Special Session All But Assured For Legislature

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By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Gov. Rick Perry says if Democrats don't vote for critical bills he supports, they may not like what a special session looks like.

Perry told reporters at a press conference Monday morning that the governor gets to decide what issues come up during a special session. And the rules of a special session won't allow the Democratic minority to block bills they oppose, such as tougher immigration laws.

Late Sunday, Fort Worth Senator Wendy Davis launched a filibuster against a school finance bill. If the bill doesn't pass, there has to be a special session.

Lawmakers could avoid a special session by having four-fifths vote of each chamber band together to suspend all the rules. Democrats would have to join in that vote to avoid a special session.

Former Gov. Clements dead at 94

Former Gov. Bill Clements, first Republican governor since Reconstruction, has died at 94.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he has been contacted by the Clements family that the former governor had died in a Dallas hospital.

Clements looked to completely change the face of Texas politics when he took office in 1979. The Texas oilman, who started out as an oil roughneck, believed state government should be operated as a big business.

Texas may soon make 'frack' chemicals public

Texas could soon become the first state to require drilling companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they use to crack tight rock formations in their search for natural gas.

Legislation approved Sunday night in the Texas House could prompt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other states to make similar rules. The governor hasn't indicated whether he'll sign it.

At issue is hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The contentious technique allows oil and gas companies to permeate tight shale formations and release once out-of-reach minerals. Drillers pump millions of gallons of chemically laced water into the ground to break the rock, allowing natural gas to flow.

Many companies refuse to say what chemicals are used, arguing it could harm their competitive edge. Others fear the chemicals could taint groundwater or soil.

Gov. Rick Perry signs tort reform bill into law

Frivolous lawsuits would be limited in Texas under a measure Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law.

Perry gathered with supporters Monday to mark the passage of a "loser pays" bill, which he designated a top priority of the legislative session.

Some plaintiffs who sue and lose will be required to pay the court costs and attorney fees of those they are suing. The law creates expedited civil actions for cases less than $100,000 and allow judges to dismiss meritless lawsuits early in the process.

Perry said the changes reduce the cost of litigation while still allowing legitimate cases to proceed. He said Texas will become more attractive to employers looking to expand or relocate.

The law goes into effect Sept. 1.