Despite Conflict, Key State Leaders Meet with End of Session in Sight

AUSTIN, Texas - State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, tweeted a photo Tuesday of the House vote on HB 214, which would limit insurance coverage for abortions.

She highlighted the political divide by saying the vote showed “absolutely no bipartisanship” in the legislature.

“This has been a very difficult to predict legislative session because of all the conflict,” noted Jim Henson with the Texas Politics Project. “I think for the most part, other than the lieutenant governor, nobody has a real interest in another special session being called if they can help it.”

“I think that’s going to drive a lot of what we see in the next week,” Henson said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick met with House Speaker Joe Straus on Monday, Patrick confirmed in an email.

“The speaker and I had a substantive meeting yesterday where we discussed a lot of issues. We are still talking,” he said, without elaborating further.

Henson explained, “I think the way you want to think about this is that the politics are being intersected by a lot of different kind of conflicts that are very hard to sort out.”

“On one hand, there’s the level that everybody is paying attention to because it’s the most public, and that’s the politics of the conflict between the speaker and the lieutenant governor, and by extension then the Senate and House of Representatives,” he said. “There are both personal institutional differences that are still being sorted out there.”

“Another thing to pay attention to though, is the conflict between the legislature and the executive branch,” Henson continued. “I think that’s been much more below the surface because open conflict on that front doesn’t really help necessarily either the leader of the House or the Senate. But I think you can count on this sense of the legislature wanting to preserve its prerogatives vis-a-vis the governor to fuel some degree of compromise.”

Lawmakers in the lower chamber have tackled less than half of Gov. Greg Abbott’s 20 agenda items in the special session, while the senators in the upper body have passed bills relating to 18 items.

“We just don’t have a consensus,” Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso said. “There’s a lot of Republicans who don’t want to deal with these issues and wish they would go away.”

“All the different items that are on the call could have been done in the regular session,” Pickett stated. “I know we fight and complain, do all that stuff. So it’s really just a waste of time.”

“Most of the stuff we’re arguing about or debating on the floor actually aren’t on the call or won’t make it through the process,” acknowledging that many of the agenda items have not related to Abbott’s list.

On a weekly political program called State of Texas, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, promoted a bill he coauthored that passed through the House last week.

House Bill 25 would restore Medicaid acute therapy services for disabled children. It was not on Abbott’s initial agenda.

“That’s why I sent him a letter last week asking him to put this on the call,” Krause explained. I think it’s that important.”

“I even changed my 20-for-20 pin to a 21-for-21 pin, just because I think that’s how critical this is,” Krause said. “I’m hoping that unanimous vote in the House sends a strong message that it’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue, this is a Texas issue to take care of these fragile kids, and we need to move on it.”

Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, said he was pleased to hear state leadership met this week.

“That’s very important,” Burrows mentioned. “I think we have some good things they need to meet on and figure out which way they’re going to go.”

No word from Abbott or his office on whether he would call an additional special session, however he did say on Aug. 4 that he would be willing to add other items to the call.

“I made very clear that there are other items I will add to the call once the legislature passes all 20 items on the special session agenda,” Abbott said.

The session ends on Aug. 18.


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