Readers will recall that the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature concluded in June with Republican leaders clashing publicly. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, legislative leader of the “movement Republicans,” had successfully pushed an ambitious, populist conservative agenda through the Texas Senate. House Speaker Joe Straus, leader of the “moderate Republicans,” had led the House in defeating several of the Senate’s most controversial proposals, heeding calls from many local officials and business leaders.
Once it became clear that several of Patrick’s priorities (particularly the Senate’s versions of local property tax reform and bathroom legislation) were going to die in the House, he scuttled a few “must-pass” sunset bills, including one reauthorizing the state agency that licenses and regulates Texas doctors. Patrick’s stated goal was to force Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session, which he hoped would include continued work on the Senate’s agenda items.
Abbott complied, and more. The governor called a 30-day special session for work on sunset, property tax reform, and bathroom bills, as well as 17 other agenda items designed to please Patrick and the conservative base.