Jul 5, 2017
Fresh off the long holiday weekend, it appears the reset button has been pushed on the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature.
Mike Ward is on assignment this week so Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock welcomed journalist Erica Grieder to the Texas Take Podcast. Grieder's work appears in The Week and The Economist, among other publications. She's also the author of "Big Hot Cheap and Right – What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas."
Here's some of what's covered on the show:
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was rocked back on his heels and clearly on defense early in the week after Texas House Speaker Joe Straus opened a new line of attack on Patrick's push to restrict restroom access based on gender. In short, Straus said he is concerned that the legislation will cause some vulnerable transgender Texans to take their own lives; it is a population that already has a high suicide rate.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Straus said he rejected overtures from Patrick to resolve the issue because Straus was "disgusted by all this" and "I don't want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands."
Patrick's office pushed back, saying the Lt. Governor certainly doesn't want anyone to do harm to themselves and again argued he wants to protect women in public restrooms.
Straus, in the New Yorker interview, insisted the House is not obligated to address any of the 19 potential topics that may be added to the special session by Gov. Greg Abbott once a bill has been passed by the Senate to avoid a partial government shutdown.
Meantime, Texas is one of the few states cooperating, at least partially, with a request for voter data made by a Trump Administration commission investigating the president's suspicions of widespread voter fraud. What happened to this states' default position being adversarial with the federal government, regardless of party?
As the Houston Chronicle has reported, the Texas Senate's proposed property tax reform measureswill not amount to any real savings for homeowners around the state. That's according to the Senate's point man on the issue, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. Bettencourt instead argues that the reforms aren't "tax cutting" measures but instead are meant to stave off more pain that would be otherwise felt if the legislation isn't passed.
Same-sex marriage is legal so why wouldn't same-sex benefits be guaranteed? The Texas Supreme Court has opened wide latitude for a lower court to overrule same-sex benefits in Houston.
Jonathan Saenz with a group called Texas Values said "It's clear that the payment of same-sex benefits by the City of Houston is still illegal under state law. We look forward to continuing our litigation in the trial court, where we are confident that we will secure judicial relief against the city of Houston's unlawful actions and we are thankful for the important role of Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton in this case."
Oh, and while some of his Republican colleagues were accused of hiding from voters in other states, Sen. Ted Cruz took the heat from Democrats in the Valley on July 4. Meantime, the Democrat who's announced a challenge to Cruz, Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, seemed to be having a great time in very Republican Lubbock.
We've got the lowdown on all the political meltdowns on the Texas Take, where you get the inside scoop in unvarnished, straight talk that every Texan can understand. From Mike Ward, the Chronicle's Austin Bureau chief, and Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, comes Texas' leading podcast about Lone Star politics.