May 22, 2017
After threatening to force a special session of the Texas Legislature unless lawmakers approve a “bathroom bill” and property tax legislation, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick on Monday appeared to be unconvinced by the House’s actions on the two issues.
“I share Governor Abbott’s concern about the lack of a rollback provision in Senate Bill 669 on property taxes,” Patrick said in a statement about a property tax measure the House passed Saturday. Patrick, like Gov. Greg Abbott, had indicated he wanted the House to approve Senate Bill 2, to require local governments that want to raise property taxes by 5 percent or more to get voter approval, but that proposal stalled in the House.
On the bathroom front, Patrick said he had concerns about the “ambiguous language” the House approved as an amendment Sunday to address bathroom use by transgender Texans in public schools because it “doesn’t appear to do much.” The measure the House approved would require schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities to students who don’t want to use facilities designated by “biological sex.”
“There is still time for the House and Senate to address these concerns — which are both priorities for Texas voters — in a meaningful way,” Patrick said.
Throughout the session, Patrick and Straus have been at odds over what should be the Legislature’s priorities. The lieutenant governor’s statement comes after a weekend of House votes on the issues that have emerged as sticking points in his efforts to push for Abbott to call a special session. The regular legislative session ends May 29.
Last week, Patrick had said he was prepared to go to a special session if the House did not act on the property tax issue and some version of a “bathroom bill.”
Abbott said both pieces of legislation were also priorities for him, though he has not publicly threatened a special session over the two items.
But following the House’s vote on the bathroom amendment, House Speaker Joe Straus said in a statement that the governor made clear “he would demand action on this in a special session.”
Patrick had pushed for the House to move on Senate Bill 6, the measure his chamber passed out in March, to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans or to amend a bill with language from a related House measure. Both measures stalled in the House, which on Sunday approved a more narrow proposal.
Over the past few months, Straus was reticent to allow a vote on the Senate’s bathroom proposal, saying the issue felt “manufactured and unnecessary.”
And ahead of the House’s vote on the property tax measure — which was set on the House calendar ahead of Patrick’s special session ultimatum — Straus argued that the House had addressed the issue of offering taxpayers relief by focusing on a measure intended to reform the state’s complex school finance system.
“Now it’s really time for the Senate to take care of the many House priorities that they know they’ve been sitting on,” Straus said in a statement Monday evening. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/22/dan-patrick-unconvinced-house-action-special-session-threat/.
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