Special session looms if deals not made in 70 days
In 1990, a Democratic member of the U.S. House named Al Swift was quoted in D.C.-area media reports as saying “Republicans are the opposition, but the Senate is the enemy.”
That line remains a shrewd observation today.
Though partisanship is a considerable factor in any legislative body, nothing unites a legislative body like the disdain it has for its counterpart.
There are about 70 days left in the 2017 biennial legislative session. Tomorrow, we will be at the exact midpoint of the 140-day legislature. Let’s take stock of where Gov. Greg Abbott’s four emergency items stand:
Child Protective Services reform: It has passed both the House and the Senate. argue would cripple many regional universities and reduce funding for some facilities.
School choice: The Education Savings Account bill, SB 3, authored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, was heard in committee last Thursday. I expect that it will pass the Senate, although House Education chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has said he does not believe it has the support to pass the House.
School finance: On March 6, Huberty unveiled a $1.6 billion plan as a “first step” to fix the state’s school funding system. The Texas Tribune reported that the bill “would boost per-student funding for nearly every public and charter school in the state while reducing the amount of money wealthier school districts are required to give up to buoy poorer ones.”
Ride-hailing: Last week the House and Senate held committee hearings on bills that would overrule city ordinances regulating ride-hailing.
Texas Privacy Act: The Senate passed SB 6, which requires all Texans to use the bathroom of their biological sex in government buildings, universities and schools. House leaders have expressed serious concerns about the legislation and its potential effect on the state’s economy.
Paycheck protection: Senate State Affairs chairwoman Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, both have bills to require labor unions in Texas to collect their own dues instead of the state collecting for them.
In the end, the House will hold back Senate bills and the Senate will hold back House bills — and both sides will need to cut a deal to avoid a special session.
The governor has been crystal clear on his four emergency items. At least publicly, he has been less clear on the remaining hot button issues.
What gets done? What is left undone? Will there be a special session? How does this play in primary and general elections next year? Stay tuned.