Sudden Adjournment Leaves Bills Stranded in the Legislature

The Texas Legislature unexpectedly adjourned Tuesday night, wrapping up the Special Session one day early, and leading to unprecedented harsh words from the Lieutant Governor aimed at his fellow Republican House Speaker, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The surprise adjournment was sparked by Speaker Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights) who brought down the gavel and declared 'Sine Die' at about 7PM Tuesday night.  'Sine Die,' Latin for 'without date,' is the term used for the end of a session, because no date is set for the body to reconvene.

Straus' actions leave several of Gov. Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's conservative priorities on the table. Among the bills that were not passed by the adjournment include:

'The Bathroom Bill,' the controversial measure to limit transgender use of public and school rest rooms and locker rooms

A measure to allow taxpayer funded vouchers for disabled children to attend a private school that better suites their disability

A measure prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion providers

The measure that would have thrown out San Antonio's tree ordinance

A bill to establish statewide rules prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.

And, the most significant measure of the entire Special Session, the bill to allow voters the right to roll back property tax increases over a certain amount.

All of these measures were passed by the far more conservative State Senate, which is led by Patrick, only to die in the more business friendly House.

And Patrick placed all of the blame for their failure on Straus.

"The Governor called 20 issues on the Special Session call, the Speaker said they were 'horse manure' and he treated it like horse manure," Patrick said."The Texas Senate didn't quit early.  The Texas Senate didn't go home without the job getting done.  Thank goodness Travis didn't have the Speaker at the Alamo.  He might have been the first one over the wall."

Patrick did praise Republicans for passing several key measures, including the bill to prevent San Antonio from annexing property without the consent of people who live in the area to be annexed, requiring patient input for 'do not resusicitate orders,' and forbidding standard health insurance policies from covering most aboritons.

Patrick stopped short of calling for a second Special Session, as many conservative lawmakers have, saying that is up to Abbott. 

 He said Republican lawmakers who opposed the governor's initiatives need to first go back to their districts and get an earful from their constituents, citing a poll showing 78% of Republican primary voters wanted to see the 'Bathroom Bill' approved.

"The Speaker wanted to give a child the choice of using any bathroom in the school," Patrick said of Straus.  "He was for choice. But he wasn't for giving the parents of a child in a wheelchair the choice of sending their child to a better school if the current school couldn't serve them."

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