Texas Rep. Charges: Wendy Davis Should Pay for Special Session

Thursday, 01 Aug 2013 06:02 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A Texas legislator said on Thursday that State Sen. Wendy Davis should pay the $800,000 for a special second session of the Texas Legislature that was called after she staged a filibuster that lasted more than 11 hours over an abortion-rights bill.

"I firmly believe that Sen. Wendy Davis should reimburse the taxpayers for the entire cost of the second special session," Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, a Republican, told the Star-Telegram. "I am sure that she has raised enough money at her Washington, D.C., fundraiser to cover the cost."

Gov. Rick Perry quickly called the second special session after state senators tried to take a last-minute vote on a comprehensive abortion bill after ending a more than 11-hour filibuster by Davis, a Democrat who represents Fort Worth.

That chaotic session ended June 25, the Star-Telegram reports.

Two other topics that had died in the first special session but were addressed in the second round: transportation funding and sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.

For her part, Davis dismissed Capriglione's attacks.

"I firmly believe in fair and equal pay and being responsible with taxpayer dollars," she told the Star-Telegram. "I will request and accept state per diem pay only for days I am in Austin for official duties. Any compensation provided me in error will be promptly returned to the state."

She blamed the state’s Republican leaders for the two special sessions.

"It's unfortunate that the leadership in power squandered taxpayer dollars pursuing partisan politics before Texas priorities and forced an unnecessary special session," she said.

Each special session, which could last as long as 30 days, costs around $800,000, once the 150 Texas House members and 31 Senate members receive $150 a day for living expenses, as well as a small travel allowance.

The Texas Constitution limits House and Senate members to an annual salary of $7,200. The "per diem" is designed to help pay for expenses such as food or housing for lawmakers in Austin.

During a typical year, with a 140-day regular legislative session, lawmakers take home $21,000 in per diem payments. Each special session adds another $4,500 to that, the Star-Telegram reports.

"I am upset at the cost," Capriglione told the newspaper. "I think we need to remember why we are having this extra special session.

"One state senator, in an effort to capture national attention, forced this special session," he added, referring to Davis.

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