SAN ANTONIO – He admitted he was a little tired and with good reason. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been racking up the miles traversing the Lone Star State, just days after gaveling the Texas Legislative Session to a close.
Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are all stops for Patrick.
"We had a good session. The problem is we didn't take care of two big issues, and that's property tax, real property tax reform and the Texas Privacy Act,” Patrick said. ‘We need to address those."
His tour could be called “The Special Session Express” Patrick is blitzing the state to get the word out that in his opinion, there's still work to be done.
"I'm not casting blame, but I just want to let people know the Senate did their work. Our 31 Senators did their work, and we did it early, and we will have a special session because the House didn't," he said.
He hit on a lot of topics during his sit-down interview, including the controversial “Bathroom Bill,” assuring San Antonians that the bill isn’t discriminatory and won’t lead to boycotts.
"No, none, you have the NCAA coming. They've signed off on the language," he said, citing concerns from city and business leaders that the bill would mean San Antonio losing the 2018 NCAA Final Four.
He also addressed the alleged death threats on the Texas House floor on Monday.
“What happened the other day should never happen. It's not an example that Republicans or Democrats want to set," Patrick said.
Time and time again Patrick spoke of a possible special session, a decision only the governor of Texas can call.
Patrick didn't criticize the Senate, where he presides. His focus was on the House, led by Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio.
"He's a nice guy. I like Joe, personally,” the lieutenant governor said. “Even though we're both Republicans, I'm not going to go around making excuses like, ‘Well folks, wait for two years, something happened.’ No, I'll tell you what happened. The Senate did its job and the House didn't, and that's just the facts and everyone knows the facts.”
Straus' spokesman, Jason Embry, released a statement Wednesday night:
Schools are the biggest driver of local property taxes, and the Texas House approved a plan that would have relieved the property tax burden by increasing state funding for schools by $1.8 billion. The Lieutenant Governor and Senate supported a billion dollars less for schools, choosing instead to put that extra burden on local property taxpayers in San Antonio and elsewhere.
In a last ditch effort to appease Patrick, the Texas House did pass a version of the bathroom bill that would have limited it to public school districts. The House version was added an amendment that would have required schools to offer facilities and single-stall bathrooms to students who don't want to use those based on their biological sex.
The Senate rejected that compromise.
As the “Special Session Express” rolls on, Texans still await word from Gov. Greg Abbott on whether there will be a Special Session and what the topics will be.
"He's the governor. I respect his right to announce when there will be a special session and what will be on that call, I've been very clear what I hope is on that call, but that's up to him," Patrick conceded.
As to whether Patrick and Straus will get another chance to work together as part of the 85th Legislative session, that remains to be seen.
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