As the Texas Senate was brought to order for the 85th session of the Legislature, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promised a renewed focus on conservative reforms.
While Republicans maintain a near two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers, only the leader of the Senate used his opening remarks to promise substantive action on the issues Texas taxpayers and voters have consistently supported.
Even though the number of Republicans in the Senate is unchanged from 2015, the conservative ranks grew with today’s swearing in of Bryan Hughes and Dawn Buckingham, who won open-seat races last year. While Buckingham is new to state office, Hughes distinguished himself as a staunch ally of conservatives during his decade in the House.
Shortly after the Senate gaveled in, Patrick reminded the state that he would be pushing a staunchly conservative agenda.
“In all our deliberations, maintaining our conservative principles and protecting Texas values will be our top priority,” said Patrick.
I have announced my top 25 priorities for this session and I am eager to get to work. https://t.co/0LuJT1S8UV #txlege
— Office of the Lt Gov (@LtGovTX) January 10, 2017
Patrick’s agenda includes strict spending limits, property tax reform, school choice, a ban on sanctuary cities, and a crackdown on labor unions, among others.
This stands in contrast to the actions promised on the other side of the Capitol.
As predicted, the Democrat coalition fronted by House Speaker Joe Straus demanded and received a “loyalty vote” in an uncontested race. The leadership team seemed bewildered when no House members voted against Straus. This prevented them from being able to immediately use a meaningless vote to falsely divide conservatives.
Straus and his team have consistently opposed property tax reform, promoted policies friendly to illegal aliens, and obstructed other conservative initiatives.
He called on House members to “have the courage to compromise.”
Straus said he wants the Legislature to focus on revamping the school finance system (which usually means, spending more money) despite the Texas Supreme Court upholding the system’s constitutionality. Patrick has said that issue should be reserved for a special session in which other priorities won’t be held hostage to Straus’ form of legislative compromise.