Governor expected to put pressure on House during special session

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation on July 17, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation on July 17, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In speeches at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out their ideas for an active approach to governing Texas, putting many issues in the hands of the legislature.

On the eve of a special session that he called, Abbott announced Monday he will publish a daily list of lawmakers who oppose him during the 30-day session. He shared the stage with Patrick to put pressure on lawmakers to make sure certain items get passed. Seven out of the 20 special session items are meant to take power away from city governments and put it in the hands of state lawmakers.

Cities have gone too far for the “collective good,” said Abbott. “They have articulated the per se definition of collectivism, socialism, that must be eradicated and stopped in the state of Texas.”

Texas Public Policy Foundation has pushed measures that increase “individual freedom” for years. The two main politicians at the helm vowed to put them into law.

They look to create state policy for trees, bathroom use, property tax limits, hands-free driving ordinances, local spending, rules for construction projects, and rules for city annexations.

Patrick pointed to one man who he says will get in the way: Republican Speaker of the House, Joe Straus of San Antonio.

“I can’t sit back, well, one guy, stopped everything, oh you know. Texas likes fighters not quitters,” said Patrick. Many look to Speaker Straus to stop controversial measures.

Over the weekend, he sent an email to his supporters laying out three questions he has about special session items:

  1. Does it promote private sector growth?
  2. Does it impact vulnerable Texans?
  3. Does it grow the size of government?

Straus over the years has been a strong supporter of local control. At the end of his email, Straus reiterates the need to focus on public schools.

Speaker Joe Straus' letter to supporters in mid-July.
Speaker Joe Straus’ letter to supporters in mid-July.

How did we get to a special session?

When it became clear lawmakers could not agree on or pass bathroom regulations and property tax limits, the Senate refused to pass the sunset bill for the Texas Medical Board. Every 12 years, each state agency goes through “sunset,” where lawmakers look at the agency and decide if they should change the way it works. Part of the process is re-authorizing it for another 12 years. By not passing sunset, the senate gave the governor a reason to call the special session, to keep the Texas Medical Board and four other state agencies from dissolving.

Part of the process is re-authorizing the agency for another 12 years. By not passing sunset, the Senate gave the governor a reason to call the special session: to keep the Texas Medical Board and four other state agencies from dissolving.

If the Texas Medical board were to dissolve on Sept. 1 we would have “unregulated medicine” in Texas. The board licenses physicians, physician assistants, acupuncturists, OB-GYNs and many other medical professionals. There would also be no legal authority to sanction questionable. physicians.

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