Duncan discusses historic night in Senate chamber

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Updated: 6/28/2013 6:48 am
State Senator Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, caught the worst of a loud and raucous display at the tail end of the first special session Tuesday night.

Senate Democrats were intent on running out the clock on the special legislative session to prevent Republicans from passing one of the more restrictive anti-abortion bills in the nation.

They got an assist from a gallery packed with opponents of the bill who cheered, clapped, hooted and hollered for the last 15 minutes of the session, successfully preventing a vote before the midnight deadline.

Duncan was holding the gavel at the time.

"The fact was that we couldn't conduct business because of the noise. The members couldn't hear their names called because of the noise certainly was a disruption."

Duncan denied having any second thoughts about his turn holding the gavel after Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was forced aside because of an appeal of one of his decisions.

"Y'know I don't think we made any mistakes from the parliamentary perspective. The fact that we ruled in certain ways excited the crowd and got the noise going, and then there were other persons who were on the floor, I don't think members of the Senate, but other persons, who were egging the crowd on and that certainly caused the issue to go backwards," Duncan said. "It seemed like every time you did something to stop the crowd it was like pouring gasoline on a fire. So at the end of the day the result was what it was, and I’m ready to move forward."

Duncan hopes for a more collegial working environment come Monday.

"This issue needs to continue to be debated. There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. There are intellectual arguments on both sides of the issue. At the end of the day we need to vote and the prevailing side wins. That's the way the process works."

He also expects a more efficient approach that will see the bill passed well before the deadline.

"The Senate has the tradition of the filibuster. The members of the Senate I think wanted to respect that privilege that  members have. And, so, hopefully we will not be in the position of having a bill coming so late that it is even subject to a filibuster. And I think that should be the appropriate goal for the next session, for any legislation that we're going to be considering in a special session."

The items on the agenda for the 30 day session include a bill that would boost highway funding, a bill setting sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds who commit capital crimes, and of course the widespread abortion restrictions.
That legislation, you can take it to the bank, will be very much in the national spotlight this time around.
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