High needs, high stress ahead of 2017 Texas session

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In just a few days, lawmakers will begin changing the laws governing your life. From who can use which bathroom to who pays for your neighborhood school, legislators begin their work Jan. 10.

For 140 days, lawmakers from across Texas will be in Austin. Scott Braddock, the editor of the QuorumReport.com, has covered Texas politics for nearly two decades. He says the Senate will push many desires of Tea Party voters such as ending sanctuary policies for immigrants in Texas cities and requiring people to use the bathroom of the gender they were born with.

The Texas Association of Business has come out against those ideas and they could get a cold reception in the Texas House, where business leaders have many allies.

“We’ve always been a pro-business state. That was whether Republicans or Democrats were in charge. But with Tea Party voters having such a big say in Republican primaries, especially over the last few cycles, it’s an open question as to whether business continues to win,” said Braddock.

Those controversial issues could steal time and attention away from much-needed reforms. Nearly all lawmakers want to revamp how public schools operate. Also, a troubled foster care system continues to limp along until lawmakers give it an overhaul.

“Some very big needs. We have an absolute crisis in Child Protective Services situation with kids literally dying in the system and some kids having to sleep in state office buildings at night because there is not enough homes for them,” said Braddock.

All of this is happening at a time when the oil and gas industry is giving the state less money than last legislative session.

“All of these are going to take real resources, real money, and they simply have less money to spend,” said Braddock.

Braddock says Gov. Greg Abbott will likely be the tie breaker for most issues caught in a battle between the Texas House and Senate.