Despite a lack of direction from the Texas Legislature, the state’s leading doctor is optimistic about how Texas will function without having a plan to address Medicaid expansion.
Dr. Kyle Janek is the commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and will be the chief negotiator when the state begins discussions with federal government on whether to extend Texas a waiver and award the state a block grant to start a state-run form of Medicaid.
After witnessing a week of state emergency preparedness drills, Gov. Rick Perry said the State of Texas is prepared to respond to the effects of a hurricane of any size this season, but that getting to that level of preparedness hasn’t been easy.
"We've got this sequestration going on and we got the Texas Army National Guard and our Air Guard that are facing some mandated furloughs. These are individuals who remain very committed to our state and we need them on the job full time," Perry said.
Members of Environment Texas gathered in front of the Governor’s Mansion to urge Gov. Rick Perry to sign into law two bills that address residential water conservation efforts.
"The first, Senate Bill 198, would prohibit homeowner's associations from preventing their members from installing drought-resistant landscaping or xeriscapes. We heard a number of cases of HOAs preventing people from changing their own property to be more drought tolerant," said Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger.
Taking a long view of the 2014 elections, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is predicting a "dust-up" for several key state positions including the lieutenant governor’s office.
"That’s where I believe I could be the most effective, if I were to run. And it’s not David Dewhurst, it’s not anti-Dewhurst, if I run it would be about my vision, my conservative vision for Texas, and that's what it's about, it has nothing to do with David Dewhurst," Patrick said.
Patrick said the lieutenant governor’s office isn't the only job where voters should expect a changing of the guard.
Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said his plan uses a portion of the Rainy Day Fund without actually taking money out of the Rainy Day Fund.
"What it does is once you pass a certain threshold and as the fund approaches filling, which it got pretty close, then it would splinter part of that off for constitutionally dedicating some of that revenue stream to transportation," Nichols said.
Nichols says this will allow the Rainy Day Fund to continue to grow, but not as quickly. Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, helped solidify the financing portion of the plan.
It will be 20 years since Texas Comptroller Susan Combs stepped into a state-elected office and at one point she had also been positioning herself for the spot of lieutenant governor, so why hang her hat up now?
"Well, my husband and I had been talking over the last several months at dinner time about sort of the next direction we wanted to take," Combs said. "We talked about the fact that I will have served 20 years in elected office by the time I finish this, and he said, 'Do you really want to do another four to eight years, and what would you accomplish?"
The first non-redistricting bills have begun to trickle in at the state capitol for the special session.
So far none of the legislation has been placed on the special session agenda by Gov. Rick Perry, but the first bill unrelated to the focus of redistricting was filed by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands.
Toth's bill was modeled after a bill filed in the regular session that makes it a crime to enforce any new federal guns laws.
Texas House members are urging Gov. Rick Perry to call for reforming various governmental programs during the special session.
Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-League City, is hoping the governor will call for lawmakers to change the funding structure for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, a quasi-governmental group that provides reduced-rate insurance coverage against a hurricane.