- Chuck Lindell American-Statesman Staff
In a fiery news conference minutes after the special legislative session ended Tuesday night, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lashed out at House Speaker Joe Straus, anticipated difficult primary elections for Republicans in Straus’ mold and predicted that bills to limit transgender bathroom use will be back.
Patrick blamed Straus for causing the demise of Senate Bill 1 by adjourning early, ending an opportunity to negotiate changes to property tax legislation that the House had “turned into a pile of mush.”
“With 27 hours to go, they walked off the job,” he said. “The reason we did not vote on Senate Bill 1 — as it came back in a take it or leave it, because we’re quitting and walking off our job mentality — is because it did nothing.”
The Senate demanded that taxpayers approve city or county property tax increases above 4 percent, while the House chose a 6 percent trigger. The 44 House Republicans who opposed the 4 percent rate in SB 1, Patrick said, “are going to have to explain that to the voters.”
Patrick, who presides over the Senate, also said Straus, a San Antonio Republican, helped kill numerous conservative bills by “twisting arms for people not to vote or sign on to a bill,” or by declining to act on legislation, including transgender bathroom limits.
“They killed the bill to further defund Planned Parenthood. They killed the bill to end the state collection of union dues,” he said. “In almost every case, it was the speaker’s personal politics. Now, I’m not here to get in a war with the speaker, but the people of Texas have to understand.”
Straus said in a statement Tuesday night: “I’m proud of our House members who worked diligently in the special session, passing legislation that was in the best interest of all Texans. The House was thoughtful, respectful and decisive in its solution-oriented approach.”
Surrounded by many of the Republican senators, Patrick said Straus, by opposing bills to limit transgender-friendly bathrooms, picked the wrong side to support in the battle over school choice.
“School choice for disabled children — my God, you’re going to kill that?” Patrick said. “The speaker wanted to give a child who’s a transgender child, or any child, a choice of any bathroom in the school, and the speaker wanted to (let) any child, a boy, play on a girl’s team and take away a scholarship. He was for choice, but he wasn’t for giving the parents of a child in a wheelchair the choice to go to a better school if their current school couldn’t support them.”
Patrick also predicted that future legislative sessions will include attempts to limit bathroom use to people’s biological sex, saying “the people will demand it.”
Patrick credited the Senate with working hard, approving 18 of Abbott’s 20 special session priorities, with many left to whither in the House.
“The Texas Senate didn’t quit early. The Texas Senate didn’t go home without the job getting done,” he said. “Thank goodness Travis didn’t have the speaker at the Alamo. He might have been the first one over the wall.”