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As Special Session Lengthens, Cost to Texas Taxpayers Grows

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

The Texas Senate is recessed until June 12 and the House until June 17 as lawmakers hear public testimony on the 2012 court-drawn voting maps. What does that mean for a possible price tag?

If the special session lasts the full 30 days, the Legislative Budget Board says it would cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, is the chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. He says the work has value.

"Redistricting is very important," he said. "Elections are important. And the two are interrelated. That’s why we’re here."

It may be harder on some days than others to perceive what work is being done. On Thursday, the Senate met on the floor for roughly 10 minutes. State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, says that seems familiar.

"We were here all summer long," she said about the redistricting session 10 years ago. "We took roll and we left all summer. Came in everyday, we took roll and left everyday, all summer long."

Most of the money spent is on the $150 per diem lawmakers earn each day the Legislature meets. Other expenses include electricity, staff time and travel costs, like lodging and meals for House and Senate Redistricting Committee members on the road for hearings outside of Austin.

Today the Senate panel meets in Corpus Christi, followed by Houston on Saturday. On Monday the House Redistricting Committee will hear public testimony in San Antonio.

The Senate plans to vote the redistricting bills out of committee on June 12. The House panel doesn’t have a date yet. 

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