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Saturday Update: Legislature Honors Fallen Soldiers, Continues Last-Minute Work on Bills

Members of the Texas House and Senate are at their desks this afternoon as the Legislature continues to work in the final days of the 83rd session. 

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, says they expect to bring up Senate Bill 1, the budget bill, on Sunday. He was one of the House members who worked with Senators in the conference committee on SB 1.

"It's a complicated process and just when you think you stomp that one fire, there's another yet to be dealt with," Rep. Zerwas said. "I think we just feel like we need another 24 hours before we're ready. Our feeling is that we need to do a little more work communicating what the bill is -- what it does do and what it doesn't do so when it does come up on Sunday, everyone feels very informed."

Before both chambers convened at 2:00 p.m. to work on bills and conference committee reports, they were at the House this morning.

Gov. Rick Perry addressed a joint session of the Texas Legislature to honor the state's men and women who died while serving in the military, fighting what he called the "war on terror."

"While we may have disagreements about policies, we may even disagree about some bills in the last days of the 83rd legislative session, there's absolutely no disagreement about the importance of honoring these young men and women," he said in his remarks. "This event is a strong reminder that as free Americans we have an obligation larger than politics to honor those who've given the ultimate sacrifice and service to our country."

After the ceremony, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst answered some questions from reporters.

He said he would have liked the Legislature to pass a bill that would have required welfare recipients to drug test. A bill that requires drug testing for people getting unemployment help — SB 21 — passed in the Senate today. Because the Senate passed the same version that House members voted on, it goes to Gov. Perry's desk.

A special legislative session can take place as early as the day following the close of this session -- which is Monday.

If Gov. Perry does call a special session, he'll decide what issues will be addressed. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst said aside from redistricting, he hopes lawmakers will come back to tackle overhaul of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency, stricter limits on abortion ,and the right to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

"We’re on the eve of one of the most successful conservative sessions that we’ve ever had in decades and decades," Lt. Gov. Dewhurst said. "There are still some things that I would like to see passed."