DALLAS - Texas lawmakers gavel in the 2009 session today with a weakening economy, a backlog of transportation funding needs, and 10% less revenue available than in the previous biennium.

The House is expected to elect its first new speaker in six years, as Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, replaces Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, who has served 40 years in the chamber. After years of chafing under Craddick's leadership, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans lined up behind Straus to overthrow the more conservative Craddick.

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