Democrats vow to resist special session’s ‘make-believe crises’

Saying the special legislative session is built on “make-believe crises,” House and Senate Democrats vowed Monday to resist wherever possible, starting by denying Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick the ability to speed the approval of bills in the early part of the special session.

Patrick, who presides over the Senate, cannot suspend Senate rules without the support of 25 senators, including five of the body’s 11 Democrats.

“He doesn’t have five Democrats,” said Sen. Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, head of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “This is not a time for us as Democrats to just roll over and say yes we want to get out of here, pass all your bad legislation.”

“I’m here to resist,” said Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston and head of the Senate Hispanic Caucus. “We will try to do everything we can to stop what we can.”

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As the minority party in both houses, Democrats are limited in their responses to Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a 20-item special session that is filled with issues important to social and religious conservatives, including abortion regulations and limits on which bathrooms transgender people may use.

During a Capitol news conference Monday, Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said Democrats also plan to act as a counterpoint by focusing on issues pertaining to children, the economy, health and communities.

A major focus will be on providing meaningful property tax relief by requiring the state to pay at least half of public school costs, instead of a projected 37.7 percent by 2019, Democrats said.

“When the state refuses to keep up its end of the funding bargain, those costs are shifted to homeowners,” said Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who added that the state must stop “shirking its responsibility and pay its fair share of the school finance system.”

Other Democratic bills would increase the state’s minimum wage, ensure women get equal pay for equal work, seek to lower the state’s high maternal mortality rate and allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The idea, Turner said, is to propose “real solutions to problems” in contrast to the “dangerous and divisive policies” being pushed by Abbott and Patrick.

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