Senate suspends time to pass bills

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Time stopped in the Texas Senate chamber a minute before a new day began. Meanwhile, the business of passing bills kept rolling along. With the legislative session barreling toward Monday's conclusion, the Senate faced a midnight deadline last night to pass bills.

The last few days are supposed to be reserved for negotiating differences. But a time-honored tradition means time sometimes stops and the deadline is delayed as long as lawmakers wish or can stay awake. At 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, a Senate sergeant-at-arms went up in the public gallery and quietly pulled the plug on the chamber's big clock.

Left in a virtual time warp, lawmakers kept passing as many bills as they wanted, including a major one that would replenish a state fund for windstorm insurance. The Senate didn't quit until 2:26 a.m. today.