Lieutenant Dan Patrick Threatening Special Session Over "Bathroom Bill", Property Tax Relief

State Sen. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, said he has "100 percent support" for Patrick's suggestion of addressing these bills during a special session.

Split along party lines, the Texas Senate on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill that would end straight-party voting, requiring every candidate on state ballots to be chosen individually.

Legislative leaders, who spoke anonymously Tuesday because of the sensitivity of negotiations, said the plan calls for the House to approve the property-tax reform bill, after which the Senate will move ahead to approve Senate Bill 310, a safety-net measure created to protect state agencies slated for so-called sunset review, if the reviews are not completed by the deadlines set in state law. Bill sponsors say processing a single one can cost up to $2,000.

Lawmakers said Gov. Greg Abbott has hinted he might be willing to do without its passage. Patrick could pile pressure on Abbott by halting a measure now in the Senate that allows several state agencies to continue functioning. 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.

"A special session can and should be avoided", she said.

The back-and-forth between Patrick and Straus comes in the waning weeks of a legislative session marked by noticeable acrimony between the two presiding officers who have found themselves at odds over the Legislature's priorities.

The session is scheduled to wrap up May 29th. The controversial SB 2 has split Texans and the local officials they elect over provisions that dictate when voters would have to approve property tax rates.

Backers say doing so forces voters to do more research on down-ballot races.

"I am a parent of a special needs child". The House has vehemently opposed proposals that would send public money to private schools.

Straus said the House passed HB 21 to address rising local school taxes.

The Santa Fe school district is cutting dozen of jobs and consolidating some high school programs in its recently approved budget.

"The House made a honest effort to start fixing our school finance system, but the Senate is trying to derail that effort at the 11 hour", he said.

"Nobody can claim to be serious about property-tax relief while consistently reducing the state's share of education funding", Straus said.

This is a developing story from The Texas Tribune and will be updated.

  • Jon Douglas