Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday unveiled his top 31 priorities for the 2021 legislative session, a mix of newly urgent issues after last week’s winter storm, familiar topics stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and a fresh injection of conservative red meat into a session that has been relatively bland so far.
Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them changed in recent days due to the storm, which left millions of Texans without power. After his top priority — the must-pass budget — Patrick listed his priorities as reforming the state’s electrical grid operator, as well as “power grid stability.”
Patrick’s specific plans for such items remain unclear, however. Almost all of his priority bills have not been filed yet, and the list he released refers to the issues in general terms.
The priorities echo much of the agenda that Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in his State of the State speech earlier this month, including his emergency items like expanding broadband access and punishing local governments that “defund the police.” Fourth on the list is a cause that Patrick himself prioritized recently — a “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act” that would require the national anthem to be played at all events that get public funding.
However, besides the fresh focus on the electrical grid, perhaps the most notable takeaway from Patrick’s agenda is how far it goes in pushing several hot-button social conservative issues. Patrick’s eighth and ninth priorities have to do with abortion — a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as well as an “abortion ban trigger” that would automatically ban the practice if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Abbott said he wanted to further restrict abortion in his State of the State speech but did not mention those two proposals specifically.
Abortion is not the only politically contentious topic on Patrick’s list. As his 29th priority, Patrick put “Fair Sports for Women & Girls,” an apparent reference to proposals that would ban transgender girls and women who attend public schools from playing on single-sex sports teams designated for girls and women. He also included three items related to gun rights: “Protect Second Amendment Businesses,” “Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts,” and “Second Amendment Protections for Travelers.” It was not immediately clear what specifically those three bills would entail.
Coming in at 10th is another proposal that was left unmentioned in Abbott’s speech despite popularity with the GOP base: banning taxpayer-funded lobbying. That is considered one of the big pieces of leftover business for conservatives after the 2019 session.
While the new state House speaker, Dade Phelan, has been a proponent of outlawing taxpayer-funded lobbying, it remains to be seen how receptive the lower chamber will be to the rest of Patrick’s agenda. The House, especially under previous Speaker Joe Straus, has a history of slowing — or stopping — at least some of Patrick’s most controversial ideas. Phelan has not released a similar list of priorities.
To be sure, though, Patrick’s list covers all five emergency items that Abbott designated in his State of the State speech, when the governor vowed to use this session to aid Texas’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick said in a statement that he backs Abbott’s priorities “as well as other legislation to make sure the Texas economy continues to come back stronger than ever following the pandemic.”
Patrick’s priorities drew the swiftest pushback from abortion rights advocates. Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said Patrick was elevating the wrong issues, especially after the winter storm.
“Just when we think state leaders can’t go any lower, Dan Patrick throws out this list—nothing more than a political stunt and a weak attempt to save face with his base, while Texans still need essential health care and critical community support,” Limon-Mercado said in a statement.
For Patrick, the priority list marks something of an end to a relatively quiet start to the session for the typically outspoken lieutenant governor. He has increased his public profile in recent days, including by announcing his plan for the national anthem legislation after a report that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to stop playing the song during home games this season.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/23/dan-patrick-2021-priorities/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.
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Trump Has a New Excuse for Why Congress Can’t See His Tax Returns: Report
Donald Trump continues to resist efforts by investigators to obtain his tax returns.
“Donald Trump said a New York law enabling Congress to ask for his state tax returns no longer applies because he isn’t president. The law, known as the Trust Act, allows the state to share the president’s tax information with a congressional committee that asks for it. Trump sued the House and Ways and Means Committee to block it from requesting information,” Bloomberg News reported Monday.
Trump’s lawyers told U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols the law “does not apply to former presidents.”
The filing is however an admission that he is not president anymore.
“Trump had also sued the New York attorney general’s office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to block them from handing over the information to Congress,” Bloomberg News reported. “Nichols dismissed the case against the New York defendants, saying he had no jurisdiction over them, but said that Trump could file his lawsuit in that state. The case against the House Ways and Means Committee was allowed to go on.”
Read the full report.
‘We Don’t Even Know What It Is’: Mark Meadows in Hypocritical Hysterics After Chris Wallace Calls QAnon a ‘Hate Group’
Fox News host Chris Wallace confronted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday over President Donald Trump’s praise of “hate group” QAnon.
During an interview on FOX News Sunday, Wallace noted that Trump was recently asked about the group at a White House press conference.
“The president was asked this week about QAnon, a conspiracy theory group that the FBI has called a domestic terror threat,” Wallace recalled. “The president said that he was thankful of the support of the people in QAnon.”
“You can end this controversy right now,” the Fox News host told Meadows. “Does the president disavow, does he condemn QAnon?”
“Well, listen, we don’t even know what it is,” Meadows said without immediately condemning the group. “I find it appalling that the media, when we have all of the important things that are going on, a list of top twenties, that the first question at a press briefing would be about QAnon that I had to actually Google to figure out what it is.”
Wallace tried to interrupt but Meadows raised his voice.
“You’re bringing it up and it’s ridiculous!” the chief of staff exclaimed. “If you want to talk about conspiracies, let’s get back to talking about how the FBI and others within the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.”
“Wait,” Wallace pleaded. “The point is, it’s a hate group. It’s a group that’s called by the FBI, a domestic terror threat.”
“This president is not for hate!” Meadows shot back. “So I can tell you, if it’s a hate group that is there, let’s look at domestic terrorism and look at Antifa and a number of other areas and quit spending time on something that 81% of Republicans don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Watch the video below from Fox News.
Trump: ‘Many People’ Call Russia Paying to Kill US Soldiers ‘Fake News’ So I Didn’t Talk to Putin About It
President Donald Trump is admitting he has “never” talked with President Vladimir Putin about Russia’s bounty program that pays the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers, because “many people” claimed it was fake. He also claims the intelligence never reached his desk.
“That was an issue that many people said was ‘fake news,'” Trump told Axios’ Jonathan Swan in a sit down interview in the White House released Wednesday. When pressed on who, Trump replied, “I think a lot of people,” specifying “some of the wonderful folks from the Bush administration.”
On Thursday Trump was asked if he challenged Putin on the bounty program and the President said he would not reveal the topics of discussion. “We don’t talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion.”
But when Swan pressed Trump he not only admitted he did not address the topic of cash for killing Americans, he revealed the two presidents spoke about “nuclear proliferation,” which Trump went on to falsely claim is “a bigger problem than global warming.” The Dept. of Defense has repeatedly called climate change one of the greatest threats.
The intelligence on Russia’s bounty program “never reached my desk, you know why? Because they didn’t think – intelligence – because they didn’t think it was real,” Trump claimed, which is reportedly false. Trump’s National Security Advisor at the time, John Bolton, has said he briefed Trump on the bounty program. The intelligence community was not in complete agreement on the program, but to say they didn’t think it was real is false.
The New York Times reported Trump was briefed on the bounty program on February 27.
“If it reached my desk I would have done something about it,” Trump claimed. The president has had numerous telephone conversations with foreign leaders that White House sources say he does not prepare for and has no agenda.
Trump also falsely characterized his intelligence briefings, which he called “meetings,” as “usually once a day, at least two or three times a week.” Trump has had just three “daily” intelligence briefings in the month of July.
NEW: President Trump tells @jonathanvswan on #AxiosOnHBO that he didn’t raise the issue of alleged bounties on U.S. troops during his call with Vladimir Putin last week: “That was a phone call to discuss other things.” pic.twitter.com/daISvMFUE1
— Axios (@axios) July 29, 2020
This article has been updated to correct the number of intelligence briefings Trump has had in July, from four to three.
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