Office shuffle kick-starts 2013 session

AUSTIN (KXAN) — New year, new digs, new agenda. With just under a month to go before Texas lawmakers begin the legislative session, crews are already hard at work - making sure things are ready for them to hit the ground running.

"This is about the third session we've done,” said Andre Oliver with Central Transportation. “We come up here every two years and do it."

By noon Tuesday, Oliver and his crew had made it down three corridors of offices in the Capitol extension. House members’ desks, couches and file cabinets lined the hallways – ready for these workers to kick start the session.

"Got to have government,” Oliver said. “Got to have laws."

As senior members retire or fail to win re-election, junior members have a chance to move up to the bigger, better offices. Once the shuffle dies down, they can dive into the business at hand. Moving will continue for the next couple of weeks.

Loading a dolly with a giant crate of wall hangings, Oliver said he spent the morning thinking of his two daughters and the cuts lawmakers made to their schools two years ago.

"Yes, sir. I hope they get that figured out, so kids can go to college,” he said.

State leaders are already setting the tone for early issues. Lucky for Oliver, House Speaker Joe Straus has said he is committed to pumping billions back into public schools.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry outlined plans to further restrict abortions in Texas. And Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has floated the idea of tapping the state's Rainy Day Fund to ease the state's water problems.

From packing to preparation, lawmakers like Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, are ready to finish the moving process. He is leaving the Capitol extension and heading for the main building. Once settled, his staffers can start laying out their own plans for the session – something they said will also likely address water concerns.

"Well, you have finite number of days and months to work, and I think the earlier they get out in front of a lot of these issues, the more prepared the members are,” said Fritz Reinig, Miller’s chief of staff.

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Republican Rick Perry is Governor of Texas. Two Republicans represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, and Texas has 32 representatives in the U.S. House: 20 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
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