Speaker Joe Straus: Dan Patrick’s bathroom bill ultimatum ‘regrettable’


Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Wednesday said that it was “regrettable” that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is threatening to force a special legislative session if the House does not approve two priorities of Patrick’s: measures restricting local property tax increases and transgender friendly bathrooms.

“(Lt.) Gov. Patrick’s threat to force a special session unless he gets everything his way is regrettable, and I hope that he reconsiders,” Straus, R-San Antonio, said in a statement. “The best way to end this session is to reach consensus on as many issues as we can. Nobody is going to get everything they want. But we can come together on many issues and end this session knowing that we have positively addressed priorities that matter to Texas.”

Read the full story on mystatesman.com.

Straus’ comments came hours after Patrick, a Republican who leads the Senate, said he will hold up Senate Bill 310 — a procedural bill needed to continue the operations of some state agencies — if the House did not take up his favored legislation.

In his lengthy statement, Straus noted that the House is tackling local property taxes in a different way: by boosting state aid to school districts, which make up the majority of the average Texan’s property tax bill and have been forced to raise taxes in recent years as the Legislature scaled state education spending. Patrick’s preferred approach, Senate Bill 2, would instead force cities and counties to get voter approval for tax increases greater than 5 percent.

RELATED: Straus calls bathroom bill ‘contrived’ answer to ‘manufactured’ problem

Straus’ letter did not mention the other half of Patrick’s ultimatum: Senate Bill 6, which would prohibit transgender Texans from using the restroom corresponding to their gender identities. He has previously said it is not a priority of the House.

In characteristic fashion for the typically restrained speaker, Straus also said in his letter that he was “encouraged by much of what (Lt.) Gov. Patrick said today,” and highlighted Patrick’s willingness to take up Straus-prioritized issues like “mental health reforms, fixing the broken A-F rating system (for public schools) and cybersecurity.”

“These are not poll-tested priorities, but they can make a very real difference in Texans’ lives,” Straus said.

RELATED: Lawmakers fear agency closures at risk without special session

Despite Straus’ diplomatic language, the two legislative leaders are far apart on a number of major issues as the Memorial Day deadline for the session approaches.



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