Texas lieutenant governor threatens special session for bathroom bill

18 May, 2017, 10:06 | Author: Jonathon Greene
  • Left Sen. Jane Nelson. Right Texas House Speaker Joe Straus

"Asked whether the priorities important enough for a special session include a so-called "bathroom bill", Abbott said: ".

The Texas Senate has approved a bill allowing drivers to offer donations to help the state clear its backlog of untested rape kits.

The move by Republican Dan Patrick, who sets the legislative agenda in the state Senate where the bill was approved, comes as he is trying to gain the upper hand with the House over budget and tax policy positions.

On the budget, both Senate and House members close to the negotiations said the House is now open to use a Senate plan to use an accounting maneuver involving transportation funds to balance the budget while the Senate appears agreeable to tap the Rainy Day Fund, the state's savings account.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott has the authority to call a special session of the legislature, which holds regular sessions once every two years. He delivered a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus that is signed by pastors from across Texas who support the measure that would pre-empt local rules letting people into schools or government buildings use the bathroom of their gender identity.

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.

Straus sent Patrick a letter that said he believes the Legislature can finish on time if lawmakers pass a budget and measure extending the life of state agencies. "House Leadership has purposely stalled". The controversial SB 2 has split Texans and the local officials they elect over provisions that dictate when voters would have to approve property tax rates. The bill requires annual background checks, but not fingerprinting.

City leaders, county officials and first responders have argued for months that even with lower election thresholds, Texans would not see meaningful drops in their individual tax bills.

"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 has vehemently opposed proposals that would send public money to private schools.

"The House made a honest effort to start fixing our school finance system, but the Senate is trying to derail that effort at the 11 hour", he said.

This is a developing story from The Texas Tribune and will be updated.

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