DALLAS – The state’s controversial bathroom legislation, Senate Bill 6, which pits Republicans against more than 1,200 of the largest Texas businesses will get its first public hearing in less than two weeks in Texas Senate committee.
“We can’t bring a bill to the floor until the 60th day unless it’s an emergency item,” explained Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Texas, during an interview on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning. “We’re actually going to have a hearing on it week after next, and then I believe we will move it quickly.”
Last week, President Trump rescinded President Obama’s Title IX rule, which allowed transgender students to use the school bathroom of the sex with which they now identify.
Lt. Gov. Patrick said that will not affect the legislation in his chamber.
“We will pass Senate Bill 6,” added Patrick. “Hopefully it will pass the House.”
But that appears doubtful without support from House Speaker Joe Straus or Governor Greg Abbott.
“I’ll let the governor speak for himself,” said Patrick. “The speaker said it’s not important to him. Well, it’s important to the voters and it’s just Texas values. Look, we don’t want any kid bullied or harassed. But you can’t change the whole system for a few students. The schools – and our bill says – make accommodations that you can for these kids.”
Separately, the Senate recently passed a strong bill against sanctuary cities, which would hold sheriffs criminally responsible for not holding county jail inmates when Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests it.
Some House Republicans joined Democrats and said that language makes the bill dead on arrival in the House.
If so, Patrick was asked what kind of compromise he expected with the House on sanctuary cities.
“I don’t know,” said Patrick. “The House, unfortunately, and we’re both Republican and I don’t think it’s speaking for all the members, but there are some who are against reducing property taxes, they’re against school choice, they want – apparently it’s OK for girls and boys to shower in school bathrooms, and now the sanctuary city bill is too tough.”
Patrick is also pushing to control the rise of property taxes in Texas – which is among the highest in the nation.
“Right now governments can grow at eight percent. And if you go over eight you have to get a petition (for the public to collectively to fight it). We want to limit their growth to four percent and then if they want more – we’re not capping them – if they feel like they want more the public has an automatic vote. Let the people decide,” said Patrick. “To cut property taxes is up to your local governments. We can’t cut property taxes. But we can slow the growth. So if I can slow the growth it will dramatically impact your property taxes moving forward.”
President Trump has pledged to add 5,000 federal agents and triple the size of ICE on the southern border. In leaner financial times, how much longer should Texas lawmakers continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for state troopers to be there, as well?
“We spent $800-million the last budget cycle,” said Patrick. “Look, Congress moves very slowly. We have to see the money. So we have been meeting with our [congressional] delegation, and we’ve been telling Washington let us see the money. Show us the money. We will pull back funds when we think they are really up to speed ready to do the job. We’re still always going to be funding it at some level. But the taxpayers of Texas shouldn’t have to spend $800-million of our tax dollars to do the federal government’s job, and by the way we should get a refund on what was spent.”