Welcome to the Texas Legislative Round-up! We are here to break down the latest news from the Texas Legislative session in Austin. Every week, we’ll give you the honest take on the news that impacts you – without pretending it doesn’t.
Week in Review
Session truly started in earnest this week giving us a preview of the pathetic politics that have taken over the Texas Republican party.
As we covered earlier this week, Texas Republicans snubbed LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce members attending the Texas Capitol on Valentine’s Day. Democratic lawmakers proposed a simple resolution to express congratulations to businesses across our state who work to make Texas a better place to live and work. Resolutions are not bills and they will never become law. They are benign and ceremonial and are often passed without any fuss. In fact, in 2019 the same Texas LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce were recognized on the House Floor through a formal resolution. In the first showdown of business vs discrimination in Dade Phelan’s house he, along with all House Republicans, chose discrimination.
Things were no better in the Texas Senate where Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who runs the chamber, announced his legislative priorities this session. You could confuse these priorities with the ramblings of an Alex Jones comment section. It was void of any substance or real interest in making Texans’ lives better. Instead, Patrick notably kept up his infamous preoccupation with the lives of LGBTQ Texans – particularly transgender Texans – listing several discriminatory policies as part of his crusade. These attacks always ring hypocritical but especially since one of his top lieutenants, Republican State Senator Charles Schwertner, was arrested this month on suspicion of drunk driving. Schwertner has previously faced allegations of sending lewd and explicit text messages to a University of Texas student in 2018. Yet, Dan Patrick, who regularly smears Texans for their sexual orientations, gender identity, or need for reproductive healthcare he doesn’t agree with, has been relatively silent on all fronts.
Governor Greg Abbott held his “State of the State” on Thursday night. What should be serious remarks given to address our biggest challenges as a state instead became a Google search for right-wing buzzwords. All the top hits were played including woke agenda, school choice, and activist judges. This speech could have been subtitled as: “Please let me beat Ron DeSantis in a presidential poll.” It sounded less like a State of the State speech and more like an attempt to court national Republican primary voters, but we doubt that will get him over single digits in any poll.
What to Watch
Right now, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the extremists in the Republican party, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Governor’s mansion, the Senate chamber, and now it appears the Texas House. Last session, during his first as Speaker, Dade Phelan already earned the title of most right-wing Speaker we’ve had in modern history. And already this year, he has cut down on Democratic leadership positions, he’s placed right-wing firebrands in positions of power, and he’s praising Ron DeSantis on Twitter. So, it’s not really a question of whether he will cave to right-wing pressure, but how much will he give them this session.
Our hearts will be in El Paso this weekend after another horrific mass shooting. We pray that Republican lawmakers finally find the courage to address senseless gun violence, but we only anticipate them making it easier for dangerous people to obtain guns this session. The Governor failed to mention Uvalde in his State of the State speech.