Threat Of Special Session Over Property Taxes, Bathroom Bill Looms Larger

Governor Greg Abbott is keeping mum over whether he’ll call Texas lawmakers back to Austin this summer. But Republican senators say they’re ready and willing to do so.

By Andrew SchneiderMay 26, 2017 7:44 am, , ,

From Houston Public Media:

The Texas House continues to block final efforts to pass the Senate’s ‘bathroom bill’ and property tax reform package. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says he is more determined than ever to force them through. The legislative stalemate makes it more likely lawmakers will have to return to Austin this summer after the regular session ends.

Patrick threatened last week to call a special session if the House did not pass Senate Bill 2, the property tax relief bill, and Senate Bill 6, the Texas Privacy Act, also known as the bathroom bill.

“I think that the Senate stands united around the lieutenant governor’s statements last week,” says Republican Senator Paul Bettencourt, the author of SB 2.

Senator John Whitmire disagrees. The dean of Senate Democrats calls the bathroom bill discriminatory. That’s because it would force transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender at birth. He also argues the property tax bill would make it harder for the City of Houston to provide essential services by capping the amount that rates can rise.

“If we pass a budget before sine die,” Whitmire says, “I would hope the members would be allowed to go back to their districts, their families, and not waste taxpayer dollars by being down here in July and August on issues that I don’t think warrant it.”

Only Governor Abbott can call the legislature back into a special session. Abbott recently reaffirmed his support for the Senate’s property tax bill. He declined to say whether he would be willing to demand a special session over the issue, but he did not rule it out either.