Only the Governor can call a special session in Texas, but Lt. Governor Dan Patrick made it known on Wednesday that there are ways he can force a special session if the House refuses to move on the so-called Bathroom Bill and Property Tax Bill. The House is now working to get those bills passed.
Legislative leaders said both chambers have tentatively agreed to changes in Senate Bill 2, the controversial property-tax measure that is opposed by cities and other local taxing jurisdictions as an unfair state mandate. Either the Senate or House version. "If the bills don't pass in the special and they're blocked again, I will ask the governor to call us back again and again and again".
The final day of the 85th Legislature is May 29 but other deadlines are quickly approaching.
Written on official State of Texas letterhead, Speaker Joe Straus asked the lieutenant governor to avoid a special session by passing the budget - which is the only bill the legislature has to pass -- and a sunset bill to keep state agencies functioning. "These are not poll-tested priorities, but they can make a very real difference in Texans' lives", he said.
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He said the Texas Senate has passed each one of his priorities but leadership in the House has held up action.
"Another bill should be amended", he said.
"We don't do anything one chamber or the other", Straus said.
Responding to Straus' letter, Patrick said: "People elect us to come here and get the job done - not to pass a budget and go home, call it a day. I am grateful that the Senate will work with us to address them". "The Senate is demanding that we provide far fewer resources for schools than the House approved and that we begin to subsidize private education - a concept that the members of the House overwhelmingly rejected in early April".
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"The voters want tax relief, bathroom protections for children in public schools, proper education funding and more", said Tinderholt, part of the House Freedom Caucus.
"The House made a honest effort to start fixing our school finance system, but the Senate is trying to derail that effort at the eleventh hour".
All blamed a breakdown in talks between Patrick and Straus, who reportedly not spoken directly in days, for the number of unresolved issues with just 13 days to go in the legislative session.
Other legislation Patrick mentioned as key issues he wants lawmakers deal with include several anti-abortion bills, a bill to make tweaks to the state's voter ID law amid legal challenges and House Bill 21, meant to reform a complex school finance system and inject about $1.5 billion into public schools.
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