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Chad’s Morning Brief: Special Session Looming?, IRS Scandal and Obamacare, & More

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of May 17, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.

Kumar Appaiah, Flickr

1. Special Session Talk (link)

Will Texas lawmakers have a special legislative session this Summer? That is the talk of Austin as many lawmakers aren’t packing their bags anytime soon.

The likelihood of a special legislative session during the summer appeared to grow Thursday, as lawmakers began predicting they will return to Austin in June to address the politically touchy issue of redistricting.

If they come back to affirm the court-drawn legislative district boundaries, as many members predicted, other hot-button issues could also be added to the agenda including: allowing concealed weapons inside college campus buildings; defining common carrier status in pipeline eminent domain disputes; funding windstorm insurance; passing a fetal pain bill banning abortion after the 20th week, and even giving tax cuts.

More key issues could also be added to the call, if major bills fail to pass on water and roads.

“I always hear we’re having specials when we need to get things done,” said state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi.

More will be clear after Tuesday, the last day on the House’s general calendar, when legislators see what has passed and what hasn’t, Hunter said.

With closed-door negotiations on a new state budget dragging on Thursday, many lawmakers suggested that the possibility of a special session is delaying a deal — because it has removed some of the pressure for an agreement by May 27, when the current session will end.

“I think a special session is pretty much certain,” said state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. “The reason is that the attorney general wants the Legislature to approve the maps the courts have drawn for redistricting. There are a number of people (Democrats) who won’t vote for that. (The Republicans) don’t have the votes to get it through in the regular session, but they can push it through during a special session.”

Most people that I have spoken with believe that there will be at least one special session this Summer. The fun isn’t over yet.

2. IRS and Obamacare (link)

I’m sure this will make everyone feel better about how Obamacare will be run. The official in charge of the IRS when it was targeting the Tea Party is now in charge of health care legislation.

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.

Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.

As the House voted to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act Thursday evening, House Speaker John Boehner expressed “serious concerns” that the IRS is empowered as the law’s chief enforcer.

“Fully repealing ObamaCare will help us build a stronger, healthier economy, and will clear the way for patient-centered reforms that lower health care costs and protect jobs,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

“Obamacare empowers the agency that just violated the public’s trust by secretly targeting conservative groups,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., added. “Even by Washington’s standards, that’s unacceptable.”

Sen. John Cornyn even introduced a bill, the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013,” which would prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury, or any delegate, including the IRS, from enforcing the Affordable Care Act.

“Now more than ever, we need to prevent the IRS from having any role in Americans’ health care,” Cornyn, R-Texas, stated. “I do not support Obamacare, and after the events of last week, I cannot support giving the IRS any more responsibility or taxpayer dollars to implement a broken law.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also reacted to the revelation late Thursday, stating the news was “stunning, just stunning.”

If you have posted anything anti-Obama or pro-GOP, my advice is simple. Don’t get sick.

3. Immigration Deal (link)

According to Politico, an agreement has been reached in principle by House immigration negotiators.

House immigration negotiators emerged from a meeting Thursday with an agreement “in principle,”and plan to turn their attention to drafting a comprehensive reform bill.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) made the announcement after the two-hour meeting. He declined to elaborate on the details of the deal.

“I think for a long time we’ve said we’re so very close,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said after the meeting. “So as long as we can make progress, that’s the most important thing.”

Before the late Thursday afternoon huddle in the Longworth Building, Carter told reporters that the group was on track to release a bill by the first week of June. The group had been working to reach agreement on how the legislation would handle health care for immigrants on the pathway to citizenship. If members don’t agree on that element, they would separate them out of the comprehensive bill and vote on it separately.

Carter had said the group has agreed to present separate proposals — Democratic and Republican — on a guest-worker program for future lesser-skilled immigrants. The health care component was the main topic at a private meeting of the negotiators Thursday evening.

He insisted that the legislation would be “95 percent” bipartisan.

“I’m encouraged that we may have a meeting of the minds tonight,” Carter said before the meeting. “But one way or the other, I’m not going to be sitting in a room, going through the motions and not solving any problems anymore.”

The eight negotiators include Becerra, Carter, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

Johnson was unable to attend the meeting as he was undergoing a “common surgery” to treat a hernia, a spokeswoman said. Labrador, who was also not able to attend, joined the meeting by phone.

Thursday’s developments were a hopeful sign for the group, one day after Republicans were threatening to halt negotiations and only hours after House Speaker John Boehner expressed concern the group is imploding.

This will be interesting to watch.

Other Top Stories:

Abbott to Lawmakers: “Don’t Pack Your Bags”

Cause of West Explosion Unclear

Perry Signs Morton Act

TX House OKs Charter School Bill

Chris Matthews on Obama

ICE Admits Hundreds of Illegals Released

IRS Ducks GOP Softball Game

GOP: Investigate Sebelius

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com

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