Texas GOP Vows to Keep Insurance, Transportation Departments Open

By Jay Root | June 5, 2009

Republican leaders in the Texas Legislature have promised that insurance regulation, roadbuilding and other government functions will continue in Texas despite lawmakers’ failure to pass a measure preserving the agencies that deliver those services.

Gov. Rick Perry would not rule out a special legislative session but also said a lot of options were being studied to address the problem.

“I never rule out the option of a special session,” he said. “The idea that somehow or another these agencies are going to go away, that’s not going to happen.”

The Legislature ended its 140-day regular session without passing “sunset” measures designed to keep several government agencies operating without interruption.

The state’s transportation and insurance departments and the Texas Racing Commission are among the agencies that would be shuttered by Sept. 1, 2010, without specific legal authority to continue operations.

Republican House Speaker Joe Straus joined Perry in promising legislative leaders would find a solution to avoid a shutdown.

“I don’t consider this a crisis in government by any measure,” Straus said.

The House on June 1 passed a measure to postpone the “sunset” dates, but the legislation did not include $2 billion in road-building bonds that many lawmakers wanted.

The House adjourned for good soon after passing the legislation, leaving the Senate with a take-it-or-leave it proposition. That touched off a furious response among senators, particularly the Republicans, who voted as a bloc to adjourn without passing the agency reauthorization bill.

They said it was preferable to quit and let Perry call the Legislature back into a 30-day special session to continue the transportation department and other state agencies and pass the bonds. Democrats described the ploy as foolish brinkmanship.

Associated Press writer April Castro contributed to this story.

Topics Agencies Legislation Texas Politics

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