Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced a special session of the Texas legislature Wednesday evening—less than 24 hours after State Senator Wendy Davis and fellow Democrats managed to stall a vote in the Senate on a restrictive abortion bill. The next 30-day session will begin Monday, July 1.
“I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas,” Perry said in a statement. “Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just.”
Perry, who will address the National Right to Life Convention on Thursday morning, added in reference to Tuesday night’s filibuster and protests, “ We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”
On Monday, the Texas House had passed the abortion bill that would ban abortions past 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, require clinics to upgrade their facility classifications to ambulatory surgical centers, and would close 37 of the 42 Texas clinics that perform abortions. The Senate met Tuesday to vote on the measure, but Davis’ filibuster kept the legislators from completing the vote before the midnight deadline.
Under the Texas Constitution, the governor may call a special session as often as he or she likes, but lawmakers may consider only the issues designated by the governor. Also among the legislation to be considered in the special session are measures to fund transportation projects and to establish a mandatory life sentence with parole for 17-year-old offenders committing capital felony.
Wendy Davis issued a statement of her own in response to Governor Perry’s decision. “Misplaced priorities of legislative leaders squandered a tremendous opportunity to make much needed improvements in our transportation infrastructure and help create good jobs and bring businesses to Texas,” she said, blaming Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for derailing the transportation funding. “If leaders are serious about using this second called special session to improve the lives of Texans by repairing and expanding our transportation networks, they will find no greater ally than me. If they intend to keep pushing their extreme personal political agenda ahead of the interests of Texas families, I will not back off of my duty to fight.”
This post was updated at 7:00 p.m.