Dan Patrick Goes On The Attack After Special Session Closes Early

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By Becky FogelAugust 16, 2017 1:25 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The special legislative session ended last night. It sputtered to a close a day early as both chambers adjourned, unable to agree on a property tax bill backed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

After the Senate gaveled out, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a late-night press conference where he touted his chamber’s accomplishments, which included passing a bill that Abbott has already signed into law requiring Texas women to pay an extra health insurance premium for non-emergency abortions.

“Pro-life issues, I don’t know if you can find a legislative body in the history of the country that passed so many pro-life bills in 30 days, and of course we did it in seven,” Patrick said.

But Patrick also laid the blame for bills that did not pass on House Speaker Joe Straus, including the so-called “bathroom bill.”

“When you have a speaker that says I will kill privacy no matter what the people of Texas want — and the people of Texas don’t want their children showering together in 10th grade and they don’t want men — we’re not talking about transgender — they don’t want sexual predators who would use that as loophole to follow any of the women in this room into a bathroom,” he said.

Lawmakers ultimately passed nine of the 20 priorities Abbott laid out for the special session. Like Patrick, Abbott blamed that track record on the Texas House of Representatives and Speaker Straus.

The Texas Tribune reports that Gov. Abbott is leaving the door open to calling another special session.

The Texas Education Agency released its 2017 accountability ratings for more than 1,200 school districts and charters schools Tuesday, as well as 8,400 individual campuses. It’s a measurement of which schools meet state standards.

The four standards include hitting targets on student achievement and student progress, closing performance gaps, and post-secondary readiness.

Ninety-five percent of districts and charters in Texas meet the state’s requirements. Only 3.7 percent received the “Improvement Required” rating.

DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the TEA, says families looking at these ratings should keep in mind this is just one way to judge a school district or campus.

“While everyone wants their campus and their district to be ‘Met Standard’ and to be appropriately serving their students and having high student outcomes and everyone passing STAAR tests, this is only one measure that you should look at because there’s a lot more to our Texas public schools. The programs, the individuals who work there, they are all a part of what makes a campus a good thing,” she says.

When the state first implemented this current accountability system in 2013 there were 760 campuses that needed improvement. This year, that number has dropped to 371.

Fort Worth won’t join the legal fight against a controversial new Texas law banning so-called “sanctuary cities.”

The city council voted 5 to 4 Tuesday to stay out of the lawsuit, which a San Antonio federal court heard earlier this summer.

Fort Worth stands out as the only major city in Texas that has not joined the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4.

SB 4 makes it a crime when local officials don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials, and allows law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain.

The law is set to take effect Sept. 1.