This is a longer than usual week-in-review, but I believe it is important for you to know what happened and what didn’t happen during the recent special legislative session, and why.
I know that you expect your elected officials to do their jobs, and you should. Governor Greg Abbott and I, along with the Texas Senate, did our jobs in the Special Legislative Session that ended last week and we passed the conservative agenda you elected us to pass. Meanwhile, with 27 hours to go in the Special Session, the Speaker of the Texas House abruptly adjourned without notice and walked off the job.
I held a press conference immediately after adjournment and discussed the impact of the Speaker’s decision to quit and walk away from the Legislature. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can view it here.
To put it simply, during the thirty-day special session, Speaker Joe Straus, moderate Republicans, and Democrats killed these important conservative bills:
Property Tax Reform. Senate Bill 1, would have given voters an automatic vote if local taxing entities raised their budgets and taxes more that 4%. The House rejected a 4% rollback and instead wanted to allow local entities a 6% roll back, which would effectively kill all future tax reform and relief.
At 4%, the Senate Bill would have saved over $200 million in future property taxes. The House’s 6% proposal would have saved virtually zero dollars.
We tried to compromise with 5%, which would have been a good step in saving over $100 million in future property taxes. But, the Speaker stuck with 6%– said take it or leave it—and adjourned without further negotiations. 19 of 20 Republican Senators and I decided to leave it. We refused to pass a sham bill that wouldn’t offer any real relief to Texas taxpayers. This fight is not over. I am committed to standing up for property tax reform whether it is in another Special Session or in 2019.
Privacy Protections. During the Special Session, the Senate again passed legislation to keep men out of ladies’ rooms and to protect women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Our privacy protections bill would have stopped public schools from adopting policies that would have allowed boys and girls to share restrooms and locker rooms. It also would have stopped boys from playing on girls’ sports teams and taking away potential state titles and scholarships from female athletes even if they said they “identified” with the opposite gender.
Texans support privacy legislation. In fact, polls show that despite a relentless barrage of misinformation from the media, who made defeating this bill a top priority, the more conservative Texans know about privacy legislation, the more they support it.
Speaker Straus believes it’s more important to be politically correct than it is to protect privacy and safety in intimate spaces. He would take no steps to ensure that the expansion of girls’ athletics programs is not undermined by boys who want to play on girls’ teams and compete for girls’ scholarships.
There was strong support for privacy legislation in the Texas House, but Speaker Straus made killing this legislation his top priority. He chose political correctness over making sure that Texas had a law protecting the privacy of men and women.
Other bills that Speaker Straus killed:
State Spending Cap. This legislation would have limited state spending to population times inflation. The Speaker killed it.
School Choice for Children with Disabilities. This legislation would have allowed upwards of 25,000 students (out of about 5.2 million in our schools) to use tax dollars to choose a private school if they believed it better met the needs of their child. The Speaker killed it.
Prohibiting the government from collecting union dues on behalf of unions. The Speaker killed it.
Career teacher bonus of $1000. The Senate passed a bill that would give bonuses to over 100,000 teachers. The bill promised $600 to teachers who have taught 6 to 10 years and $1000 to teachers who have taught 11 years or more. The Speaker killed it.
Further Defunding of Planned Parenthood. The Speaker killed it.
The Speaker even tried to kill the School Finance Commission, which will allow us to focus, for the first time in 40 years, on the way we fund our public schools. This is vitally important. Even though the Speaker tried to kill the bill, we managed to amend a House Bill on the last day to be sure it was accomplished.
Special Session Victories:
Despite the obstructive approach of Speaker Straus, the Texas Senate passed 18 of the Governor’s 20 priorities in a record-breaking 8 days. In addition to the School Finance Commission, we managed to get several important bills to the Governor’s desk including these:
Pro-Life legislation. This session was the most Pro-Life in session history. We passed 4 important bills that will fight to protect life in our state including legislation that enhanced abortion reporting requirements for both women and girls. We also passed legislation that will make sure no one is forced to pay for someone else’s abortion insurance. Finally, we clarified the directives for end of life practices.
We stopped cities from annexing areas without a vote of the people and enhanced penalties on mail voter fraud.
We also added over $200 million to the Retired Teachers Healthcare System to help mitigate the staggering increase of health care costs for our retired teachers.
I am very proud of the hard-work of the Texas Senate in getting these important pieces of legislation passed. Speaker Straus called the Governor’s conservative agenda “horse manure.” And that’s how he treated it. He blocked conservative legislation and tried again and again to spend billions more in our state budget — money that the state simply doesn’t have. He wants to drain the Rainy-Day Fund (our state savings account) to pay for new programs and ongoing expenses. Apparently, his goal is to get the state to either increase the sales tax or create an income tax. He is simply out of touch with the conservative majority in Texas. The day after the Special Session, the headline on the front page of the Austin American Statesman read: “Abbott: Straus to blame for failed bills.” What you can do to fight for the conservative agenda:
Re-elect me as your Lt. Governor so I can continue to stand up to the Speaker and keep pressure on those who do not support the Texas conservative majority.
Re-elect Governor Abbott to keep our state leadership strong.
Governor Abbott and I have worked together and will continue to work together as a team. We are committed to fighting for the conservative agenda that the majority of Texas citizens share. We need to keep this conservative team of Abbott and Patrick together. Thank you and God Bless you, your family, our country and the greatest place God ever created – Texas!
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
“Whomever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
Matthew 20:26 (NLT)