Divisions Between House and Senate in the Spotlight Ahead of Legislative Session

It’s not always about what bills are being debated – but whether the Texas House or Senate is leading the charge.

By Ben PhilpottJanuary 3, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KUT

The House and Senate are actually on the same page about many things – keeping down spending, lowering taxes when possible, and a lot more. But when the Senate’s leader, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, released a list of his top priorities, House Speaker Joe Straus did not enthusiastically agree with the to-do list.

At an event in November, Straus explained to the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith why he didn’t have his own accompanying list for the House.

“That’s his job the way he sees to do it. And the way the Senator’s apparently approve,” Straus said, referring to Patrick’s priorities list. “I think the House members would string me up if I said, ‘Here’s your bill – pass it!'”

Straus said being speaker means that he may have a personal set of priorities, but that doesn’t make them the priorities of the House. Behind that sentiment are also some deep disagreements between the two chambers.

On Patrick’s agenda: lowering property taxes, blocking transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity and creating a school voucher system.

In October, he told members of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party that the state would be in trouble unless the state started using vouchers to improve public education.

“We will not have a future in Texas if we don’t get about 300,000 kids – out of the 6 million we have in Texas – out of these failing schools,” Patrick said.

And, on each of those, reception in the House could be chilly.

On school finance, based on the House’s voting history, there might not be much chance of passing a voucher program that uses state money for kids to go to private schools.

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