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House and Senate Still Fighting Over Bathrooms, Budgets, and More

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Texas legislators and staffers really do not want to go into a special session. But the House and Senate are still in conflict, despite some efforts at compromise over the weekend.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who leads the Senate, had previously demanded the House pass the “bathroom bill” (SB 6) and property tax reform (SB 2). Neither is going to pass.

And of course, both chambers have still got to pass the state budget.

Over the weekend, Sen. Jane Nelson and Rep. John Zerwas, the chambers’ respective budget-writers, announced they had reached a deal which included taking $1 Billion from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” formally called the “Economic Stabilization Fund.”

But there is already resistance to the plan among grassroots leaders and some of their allies in the legislature.

The House also passed compromise language attempting to address Patrick’s other two demands.

They approved an amendment to SB 669 which requires local tax appraising entities to send notice to voters when there is a proposed increase in rates. They also approved an amendment to SB 2078 which mandates public schools install single-use restrooms for transgender students.

But it may not have been enough to appease Patrick, or even Governor Greg Abbott. Indeed, in a statement by Straus after the bathroom vote, he claimed Abbott would demand action on the issue in a special session.

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Tribune reported Sen. Larry Taylor will not accept the House’s bathroom language that they attached to his bill. The two chambers will have to assign some of their members to a conference committee to hammer out a compromise.

Also Tuesday, Reps. Lyle Larson and Harold Dutton threatened to kill every Senate bill on the House’s last “Local and Consent” Calendar in retaliation for the fact that Patrick has failed to refer 22 members’ bills to committee in the upper chamber.

Whether they follow through on that threat will be seen Wednesday morning.

The threat was greeted with a standing ovation and further illustrated the deep divide between the two chambers.

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