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May 17, 2017

Patrick Priorities – Special Session Possibility

Today Lt. Governor Dan Patrick held a press conference laying the potential of a special session in the hands of the House. Patrick began his opening remarks noting the fulfilled promises he made to the people of Texas which included 30 bills he marked as priority issues – of which all 30 have passed out of the Senate, 20 with bipartisan support. Patrick provided a timeline in which the Senate has passed legislation on priority issues while noting the "leadership in the Texas House has taken a different approach on big agenda issues holding them until these last few weeks putting us on the precipice of a special session."

Patrick noted there are a number of important bills that must be passed to keep the Legislature’s commitment to the people of Texas and before the Senate moves SB 310, a key bill known as the sunset safety net, Patrick must see action by the House to pass certain key bills. Those two bills were:

  • SB 2 (Bettencourt), a property tax bill now scheduled on the Thursday, May 18, House Calendar, and
  • SB 6 (Kolkhorst), a bill known as the Texas Privacy Act [also referred to as the “bathroom bill”] or similar bill such as HB 2899 (Simmons).
Patrick further identified several other “key bills that should pass”: pro-life bills, voter ID bill, veterans bills, tax break for families of first responders killed in the line of duty, and a school finance and school choice bill for students with disabilities (HB 21).

HB 21, was recently voted out of Senate Education with substituted language that now includes education saving accounts (ESA’s) for children with disabilities. Patrick noted that if the House passed HB 21 as he laid out, they would agree to push back the official start date on A-F, the public school accountability rating system, until 2019.

In regards to budget negotiations Patrick again stated the Senate has no intent to spend funds from the Rainy Day Fund, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), for ongoing expenses.

“If we must go to a special session, I will respectfully ask the governor to add both of these bills — plus other legislation he has voiced support for — in that special session call,” Patrick said during a press conference at the Capitol. "If the bills don’t pass in the special… and they’re blocked again, I will ask the governor to call us back again and again and again.”

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