- Associated Press - Saturday, April 25, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick predicts a looming legislative deadlock will be broken and that odds are “20 percent or less” that a special legislative session will be needed this summer, despite his argument with House Speaker Joe Straus at a breakfast meeting over border security bills passed by each chamber.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1brQyz7), Patrick says both chambers seem to be adopting a more conciliatory tone with each other. He said he thinks he, Straus and Gov. Greg Abbott “are close to agreement on most of the important issues.”

The interview came amid signs that the two chambers were at an impasse on tax cuts, border security and expanded pre-kindergarten and school voucher proposals.

Patrick and Straus argued at the Wednesday breakfast meeting with Abbott over border security legislation. The Senate, over which Patrick presides, wants to keep National Guard troops along the border; the House hasn’t provided for continued troop deployment in its plan, which follows Abbott’s specifications. Also, a grass-roots task force formed by Patrick has sharply criticized Abbott’s plan to enhance pre-kindergarten programs.

“Every day is not kumbaya,” Patrick told the Chronicle in the Thursday interview. However, “in the last 48 hours, I’ve seen from the House and we’ve sent them (from the Senate) some positive signs.”

“I believe the governor and the speaker and the lieutenant governor will be able to guide this to a successful close without a special session. I think we are close to agreement on most of the important issues. I’m confident we’re going to pass a lot of their bills and they’re going to pass a lot of ours,” he said.

Patrick rejected criticism over the Senate passing its own bills on the same issues addressed by House bills with little apparent coordination between the two chambers. “My job is to get them through the Senate,” he said of legislation. As of Thursday, Patrick said the Senate had referred to its committees one of every three bills the House had passed and sent its way. The House, he said, has referred to committees only one in 10 Senate-passed bills.

Patrick also implied that the question of whether a special session is needed may lie with the House, not the Senate. He noted that combining separate bills into one is much easier under House rules than under Senate rules, which require full public hearings not required in the House.

“If we cannot get it all done, then I think it raises the possibility of being in a special session,” he said.

“I’m here to do what the people asked me to do,” the tea party favorite said. “The public doesn’t care about the process. They just want to know that we got the job done.”


Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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