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January 13, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE BEGINS 81ST LEGISLATIVE SESSION

(AUSTIN) -- The Texas Senate kicked off the 81st Legislative session, Tuesday, preparing for 140 days of debate, deliberation and lawmaking. On Monday, legislators were warned that they would have about $9 billion less to spend by Comptroller Susan Combs, pushing the state budget to the forefront of this session's issues. Other contentious issues, like Voter ID and education, also loom as the Legislature begins its journey toward its end in early June.

Opening day was all about welcoming back old members, and introducing two new members, Senators Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Joan Huffman of Houston. This will raise the number of women Senators to six, the most ever in the Texas Senate. The Senate also elected Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock as its President Pro Tempore, where he will serve as governor should Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst be out of the state. Duncan's colleagues praised him for his even temper, bi-partisanship and legislative ability.

One of the most significant changes for this year's Legislature lies across the Capitol in the House Chamber. San Antonio Representative Joe Straus replaces three-term Speaker of the House Tom Craddick at the head of that body. Lt. Governor Dewhurst said he met briefly with Straus earlier in the week. " I was impressed. This is a reflective, a bright individual, who wants to work with Democrats and Republicans alike," he said. " I think we'll continue to have a good working relationship with the office of the Speaker."

The Senate stands adjourned until 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 14th.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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