Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is threatening to ask for a special session if the House doesn't pass a bathroom bill which requires citizens to use the restroom matching the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Patrick told reporters Wednesday House Speaker Joe Straus needs to get in gear and pass the bill, plus property tax reform. He's promising to ask Governor Greg Abbott to call a special session if that doesn't happen.
Patrick is essentially holding the budget hostage, and a sunset safety net measure for state agencies, until lawmakers pass the two pieces of legislation.
“Republicans are torn here, their voters are on one side, their businesses are on the other, its a very tough piece of legislation,” says Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune. “But Patrick is saying if the House doesn't vote on that, he's going to hold these hostage and force a special session so he can get a vote on bathrooms.”
Speaker Straus says Patrick's comments are regrettable and is hoping he'll change his mind. He's also hoping to reach a compromise on "as many issues as we can."
Ramsey says at this point, it appears the bathroom bill is more about politics than necessity.
“I think the wager the Lt. Governor and others who support that bill would be making is that their voters really want that legislation and they will regard it as a heroic stand,” he says.
The Regular Session is scheduled to end May 29th.