On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott addressed a joint session of the Texas Legislature and put forward four conservative legislative priorities as emergency items for the upcoming legislation.
Abbott identified four emergency items for the legislature to consider: reforming Child Protective Services while protecting parental rights, eliminating sanctuary cities, passing genuine ethics reform, and having Texas join the list of states calling for an Article V Convention to rein-in the federal government.
All of the issues have a broad consensus of support from conservatives, but could face opposition in the Texas House. Ethics reform suffered that fate last session when it was hijacked by State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).
If Abbott’s priorities are quickly passed by the Texas Senate, the House will have less time and options to obstruct and kill them. Designating the issues as emergency items will allow lawmakers to get to work on them immediately. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made clear he intends to pass the bills through the Senate without delay.
“If it’s an emergency item on Tuesday in the governor’s State of the State, we’ll have that bill passed over to the House within a week after that,” said Patrick in a radio interview last week.
So far Patrick appears serious about his promise. A hearing has already been scheduled on one of Abbott’s priorities for Wednesday: SB 4 by State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) which would eliminate sanctuary cities.
Though not designating them all as emergency items, Abbott also notably sided with Patrick and the Texas Senate on a number of other issues.
First among those was funding for border security. That funding has been an issue of contention between the Senate and the House. Currently the Senate budget maintains border security funding at 2016-17 levels, but the lower chamber’s proposal cuts border security funding by more than $100 million.
“While the federal government is ramping up, Texas will not retreat,” stated Abbott. “My budget continues the investment made last session, including funding for DPS troopers and the National Guard. Texas will not flinch in our resolve to keep Texas safe.”
The governor also joined Patrick in support of school choice, doubling down on remarks last week on the steps of the Capitol during National School Choice Week.
“Parents, not government, are best positioned to make decisions about their child’s education. Parents should be empowered to choose the school that’s best for their child,” said Abbott. The governor also noted his support for the efforts of State Sen. Larry Taylor (R–Friendswood) who has authored legislation to create Educational Savings Accounts and allow state dollars to follow children to a school of their choice.
The most important item in Abbott’s remarks was his commitment to fiscal responsibility. He clearly rejected a proposal floated by House leadership to raid the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy day fund.
“Just as families have to balance needs versus wants, so must we. I am confident that we will be able to balance the budget without looting the Rainy Day Fund,” said Abbott.
Abbott’s full remarks may be viewed here.