Lawmakers feud over sunset bill that could shut down some state agencies

(PHOTO: CBS Austin)

State lawmakers remain at odds over legislation that could send them into a special session.

Right now, Senate Bill 1929 would give approval to which state agencies can continue beyond Jan. 1, 2018. The Texas Medical Board is one of the agencies impacted by the bill.

The House says it has done everything to get the legislation passed. However, the senate says they haven't done enough.

"It is the purposeful inaction by the Texas senate that puts us where we are today," Rep. Larry Gonzales said at a press conference held by members of the House Sunset Commission.

In response, at a separate press conference, held by Senate Sunset Commission members, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said "the senate has not killed the medical board, the house did."

House and Senate lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had harsh words for one another Sunday as members of both chambers held their own press conferences centering on SB 1929.

"The gap between what the real truth is and what was said is about as wide as the grand canyon," Patrick said, referring to House members placing blame on the senate.

Without its approval, state agencies, like the Texas Medical Board would effectively shut down after Jan. 2018.

"There are 205,000 Texans who are licensed by these boards, and without these boards, without these statutes, you're not gonna have a doctor in the state of Texas," Sen. Van Taylor said.

The controversy lies around the Senate's refusal to approve an amendment made by the house that would keep state agencies open.

The House says it's being held hostage, while Senators say the house sent them bad legislation.

"In addition to having five agencies go out of existence, there are also 28 separate chapters of code that will cease to exist on Sept. 1 of this year. The fix the house sent us doesn't work. It just doesn't compute," Taylor said.

Lawmakers risk going into special session if SB 1929 doesn't pass -- something Gov. Abbott has said he thinks can be avoided.

With time ticking and only a day left in the 85th regular session, the likelihood of avoiding a special session looks slim.

"What we're saying is we've done our work, and we've passed everything that we've needed to pass. It is over there, and it is on them," Gonzales said.

Gov. Abbott hasn't said whether or not he'll call a special session, but if SB 1929 isn't passed, he may be forced to call one in order to keep those state agencies alive.

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