Sunset bill still center stage on day two of special session

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick adjourns the Senate on the second day of the special legislative session on July 19, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick adjourns the Senate on the second day of the special legislative session on July 19, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas lawmakers set their sights squarely on House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 20, their respective versions of the sunset bill. That legislation would keep critical auditing agencies open, related to the health of Texans.

The House Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing Wednesday to gather input from Texans about HB 1.

“It’s our goal to vote this bill out and have it on the floor of the House next week,” Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said. Geren is on the State Affairs Committee and talked about working with Democrats to pass legislation.

“We worked on some things the Republicans and Democrats agree and obviously others they don’t,” he explained. “Democrats are well represented on all the committees and we’ll work with them as best we can to get meaningful legislation passed. There are some things they could never be for, but that may pass anyway.”

Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, was critical of the process, asking Gonzales during the hearing if the bill was a necessity.

“Is this bill what needs to happen?” she asked.

“This is what has to happen,” Gonzales responded. “This one will continue the agencies until 2019 and allow the agencies to continue to function.”

Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, speaks in front of the House Committee on State Affairs, regarding House Bill 1. July 29, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, speaks in front of the House Committee on State Affairs, regarding House Bill 1. July 29, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

“Obviously, the most important thing was the sunset bill,” Giddings said following the hearing. “Although, as I attempted to establish in the meeting, I think we had a process by which we could have extended the life of these committees or—agencies, and at the same time made sure that Texans were safe and healthy.”

Meanwhile, senators heard a second reading of SB 20. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick adjourned the Senate until 12:01 Thursday morning, in order to meet the requirement of three readings on three different days.

“I’ll bring the pizza and soda pop,” Patrick said before adjournment.

Geren met with Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday afternoon, and the two talked about upcoming agenda items.

“We talked about some of the issues that are going to be on the supplemental call, and what we need to do to move forward,” Geren said after the meeting.

A spokesperson from Abbott’s office said his office would release an update once the Senate passed its version.

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