Texas Legislature

Patrick Threatens To Force Special Session, Straus Pushes Back

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is demanding a House vote on property tax reform and a bathroom bill. He says the Senate won’t pass a budget or a sunset bill for key state agencies until it does.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said he will block legislation needed to keep the state government running, unless the Texas House passes the Senate’s property tax reform and bathroom bills.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Joe Straus wrote an open letter to Patrick, saying there were only two bills the Legislature needs to pass in order to avoid a special session. The first is the state budget, the second a “sunset” bill needed to keep key agencies like TXDOT running.

Special Coverage Of The 85th Texas Legislative Session

Special Coverage Of The 85th Texas Legislative Session

“Here’s the bottom line,” Patrick responded in a press conference. “I want to avoid a special session. But I am prepared to go into one if the House does not pass a strong version of Senate Bill 2, property tax relief desperately wanted by the people of this state, and if the House does not pass SB 6 or amend another bill with the language concerning Texas privacy.”

Only Governor Greg Abbott can call a special session. But the budget and sunset bills give Patrick leverage to force the governor’s hand. The Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a budget bill in order to fund the state government, but the law does not require it to do so during the regular session.

“If we must go to a special session, I will respectfully ask the governor to add both of these bills plus other legislation that he has voiced support for in that special session call,” Patrick said.

In a written statement, Speaker Straus called Patrick’s threat “regrettable” and said he hoped the lieutenant governor would reconsider. He also criticized Patrick for holding up a House measure to reform public school finance, which Straus said would go a long way to rein in rising property tax bills.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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