Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants special session over 3 failed bills

ByShawn Mulcahy, The Texas Tribune
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants special session over 3 failed bills
The bills, including the trans student ban in school sports, failed to pass the House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick now wants another go at passing them.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session of the Texas Legislature in June to advance three pieces of GOP-backed legislation that died in the Texas House at midnight on Tuesday.

The bills sought to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams based on their gender identity, prohibit local governments from using taxpayer funds to pay for lobbyists and punish social media companies for "censoring" Texans based on their political viewpoints.

"The TxHouse killed these conservative bills that majority of Texans in both parties support," Patrick tweeted.

House Democrats pulled out all the stops Tuesday night in a last-ditch effort to block a handful of bills that had the support of Patrick, Abbott and the Texas GOP. The lower chamber faced a midnight deadline to advance Senate bills. Democrats instead spent the day barraging their colleagues with questions, compliments and procedural objections to slow down the process.

A series of objections to key bills forced their sponsors to delay consideration until 11:30 - leaving just half an hour remaining to take up and vote out the measures. As the midnight deadline drew closer, Democrats offered an amendment to an unrelated bill about prevailing wage rates in a coordinated effort to run out the clock.

When time expired, Democrats cheered and waved transgender pride flags on the House floor, celebrating with a crowd of onlookers in the gallery.

"Democrats had a long, aggressive floor strategy to keep a number of bills, most notably SB 29, from affecting the people of Texas," state Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Farmers Branch, treasurer of the House LGBTQ Caucus, told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday night. "I'm really happy we were able to end the session by preserving the dignity and rights of the children of Texas to be free of discrimination."

RELATED: TX GOP's bills targeting transgender kids have exacted mental health toll, even if not law

"Everyone should be valued." In the video, the leader of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers explains why it is backing transgender students in the midst of a state bill banning trans participation in school sports.

The Texas Constitution grants the governor the power to call a special session of the Legislature "on extraordinary occasions." During these periods, lawmakers can only consider specific subjects designated in the governor's proclamation.

An Abbott spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the governor's intentions.

Lawmakers are already expected to return to Austin for a special session later this fall to redraw Texas' political maps, a process known as redistricting that occurs every 10 years following the census.

In 2017, Patrick also pressured Abbott to call a special session over the House's blockade of a proposal to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans.

SEE ALSO: Bill requiring pro sports teams in Texas to play national anthem heads to governor's desk

Abbott eventually gave in and called a special session for later that summer, loading up the agenda with not only the so-called "bathroom bill" but also a slew of other conservative priorities. Half of Abbott's 20-item agenda ended up getting passed, though a "bathroom bill" never made it to Abbott's desk.

State Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, slammed Patrick's announcement, noting that a special session was not called to address gun violence after the 2019 El Paso massacre or throughout the coronavirus pandemic that has left 50,000 Texans dead.

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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