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Legislature sees tough issues ahead after election

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012

So while Republicans may have lost the ability to push through their agenda, the Republican caucus will be more conservative and try to pass long-held goals, such as school vouchers that allow parents to spend public money on private schools and a requirement that local police investigate suspected immigration violations.

Democrats added seven votes in the Texas House, fewer than they hoped. But Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said the minority party will look to Straus to see if they should expect another highly partisan session, where Democrats are ignored, or whether he will seek bipartisan solutions to the big issues facing lawmakers.

"We should not be looking to the Republican freshman class for leadership. It should come from the top. The speaker should be a leader for the entire House," Fischer said. "If the input of Democrats is important for electing the speaker, then he needs to show that our input is important on other priorities."

If Straus should lose both tea-party Republicans and Democrats, he would have a difficult time winning re-election.

In the Texas Senate, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis fought off a statewide effort to drive her out of her Tarrant County seat, establishing herself as a growing star in the Democratic Party. She earned the ire of Republicans and the support of progressives when she launched a filibuster against a budget bill that cut funding for public schools and forced a special session.

She promised Wednesday not to hold a grudge and to seek out bipartisan solutions to the state's problem, while acknowledging that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, has promised a more conservative agenda next year and will still have 19 seats in the 31-member chamber to pursue it. Under the Senate's traditional rules, a bill needs two-thirds support of the chamber, or 21 votes, to make it to the floor for a debate, which means conservatives will have to compromise or change the rules.

"I am going to work with my Senate colleague on a bipartisan basis, there should be no time for grudge matches," Davis said. "We need to work together."