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Smell ya later, Senate

How about that?

The special legislative session is over — in one chamber, at least.

The Texas House abruptly gaveled out Sine Die – the formal designation meaning the end of a session – on Tuesday evening after voting to approve the Senate’s version of a school finance bill that largely stripped provisions the chamber had fought to keep.

Gov. Greg Abbott called lawmakers back for a special session on July 18. Special sessions can last for up to 30 days, which gave both chambers til Wednesday to work.

The House’s abrupt move came after days of difficult negotiations with the Senate on school finance and property tax bills — and leaves the fate of the latter in question.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen had been expected to appoint conference committee members Tuesday so that the two chambers could reconcile their versions of the bill.

But instead, shortly before the surprise motion to Sine Die, the Angleton Republican made an announcement.

“I have been working with members of the Senate for several days on SB 1, we have made our efforts, so I don’t want there to be in any way a suggestion that we have not, will not, would not work with the Senate on such an important issue,” he said.

So now the Senate can take it or lump it on SB1, which in the end was the bill Abbott was really pushing for. Dan Patrick has a press conference scheduled for today, and I expect it will be epic. I have no idea what happens next, but this is as fitting an ending for a stupid special session as one could imagine. Some things, including at least one really bad thing got done, but most of the petty attacks on local control, as well as the odious bathroom bill, got nowhere. We’ll see if Abbott takes his ball and goes home or drags everyone back out again.

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5 Comments

  1. Flypusher says:

    Looks like Strauss and Patrick have come to a “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us!” impass here. Charles, do you have any predictions on whether Strauss remains as Speaker next session?

  2. Flypusher, I think Straus stays in place. People forget how much members hated being forced to vote on ideological items that hurt their districts or went against their own preferences. Straus has let the members chart their own course, and he’s been successful at it. The antis couldn’t even scare up an opponent for him last time. No question he has strong and zealous enemies, but I don’t see any evidence yet that he has more enemies in the House than he did before.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Charles,

    There WILL be a primary opponent for Strauss next go round. Personally, I’m glad the bathroom bill died, it was just embarrassing, and I doubt whether it had real popular support from the public, but when Republican controlled, well, everything, can’t pass property tax relief? Somebody’s got to pay for that failure, and it’s Strauss.

  4. Ross says:

    @Bill, just how would they cut property taxes? It’s not like the State is providing enough money for school districts to cut taxes, and cities like Houston aren’t exactly raking in extra money from the current rates (clue, the budget for public safety is more than the property taxes Houston collects). So, they can either raise the sales tax, which isn’t much good for anyone whop has to spend most of their paycheck to live, institute a state income tax (i’ll be dead before that happens, I suspect), or leave things as they are.

    I am currently rooting for an income tax, since my salary is pretty much flat, while my property taxes are going up.

    I know, I know, you can say that school districts ought to cut their costs and give their taxpayers a break, but for any sort of material tax cut to happen, you have to be willing to move to 40 students per classroom, hire only teachers with less than 5 years experience, and do no maintenance on any building. Districts like Katy could, conceivably, quit building stupidly expensive stadiums, but for HISD, there’s hardly anything to cut without harming education, especially with the amount of Robin Hood money HISD has to pay.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Ross,

    The feckless GOP of Texas wasn’t even trying to lower property taxes, they were just trying to decrease the rate of yearly INCREASE in property taxes, and they couldn’t even do that. Finally we find an issue that Texas Dems and Pubs can agree on. Screw the property owners!

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