On his first vote as a state senator, Dan Patrick voted alone. In the recently concluded legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the state senate substantively delivered on every measure he campaigned on last year.
A main stay of Patrick’s policy agenda, since he first ran for a Houston-area state senate seat a decade ago, was property tax reform. This session, he and his successor – freshman Sen. Paul Bettencourt – delivered through the senate a series of reforms.
Most notably, the Senate pushed for, and the House relented on and enacted, an increase in the homestead exemption for property owners.
The same can be said for tax cuts. The Texas House did nothing on tax cuts until after the Patrick-led Senate passed a $4.2 billion relief package.
Part of Patrick’s first (and successful) run for public office in 2006 was built on his opposition to the so-called business “margins” tax. This year, the tax was significantly reduced.
On issue after issue this legislative session, under Patrick’s leadership, the Senate led forward with substantive reforms. It was the Senate that passed a spending limit measure that kept with the wishes of 94 percent of GOP primary voters… which was then killed in the Texas House.
Education reformers saw the Senate vote forward a program providing scholarships for students to escape failing schools (it was also killed in the Texas House). Following that same trend, it was the Senate that passed (and the House leadership that killed) a measure protecting public employees from the unscrupulous practice of labor unions deducting dues before the paycheck ever reaches the individual’s bank account.
The Senate even made good on Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities. Most notably, the Senate passed a strong ethics bill shining light on lawmakers and lobbyists as an effort to grow public trust in their government. (Sadly, the Texas House gutted the measure and replaced it with provisions Abbott has declared to be unconstitutional.)
While there is always an opportunity to move the ball further down the field on a variety of issues, Dan Patrick’s first session as lieutenant governor saw him working effectively with the independently elected 31 members of the Senate to deliver substantively on everything he promised to do.
That first vote as a senator, where Dan Patrick stood alone? A proposal to reform the old “two-thirds” rule that had killed so many freedom-focused reforms. The first act of the Senate in 2015 with Dan Patrick as the leader? Reforming that rule, which made all the good work attempted by the Senate this session even possible.