Pandemic, Energy Grid, and Star Spangled Banner Safety Act

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick outlined his 31 top priorities for the 2021 legislature on Tuesday, a mix of new urgent issues following last week’s winter storm, familiar issues emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, and a fresh injection of conservative red meat in a session that has been relatively boring so far.

Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident that these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them have changed in recent days due to the storm that millions of Texans are without Left power. After his top priority – the must-pass budget – Patrick named his priorities the reform of the state electricity network operator and the “stability of the electricity network”.

Patrick’s specific plans for such items remain unclear, however. Almost all of his priority invoices have not yet been submitted, and the list he has published relates to the issues in general.


The full list of Dan Patrick’s priorities can be found here.

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The priorities reflect much of the agenda that Governor Greg Abbott set out in his state of the art speech earlier this month, including his emergency issues such as expanding broadband access and punishing local governments for “disappointing the police.” Fourth on the list is something Patrick himself recently prioritized – a Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, which requires the national anthem to be played at all events that are publicly funded.

Aside from the new focus on the power grid, perhaps the most notable takeaway from Patrick’s agenda is how far it goes in pushing several socially conservative hot-button issues. Patrick’s eighth and ninth priorities relate to abortion – a “heartbeat law” that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, and an “abortion ban trigger” that automatically bans the practice when the US Supreme Court roe v calf.

Abbott said he intended to further restrict abortion in his state of the art speech but did not specifically mention either of these proposals.

Abortion isn’t the only politically controversial topic on Patrick’s list. Patrick’s 29th priority included Fair Sport for Women and Girls, an obvious reference to proposals that would prohibit transgender girls and women attending public schools from playing on same-sex sports teams designed for girls and women are. It also included three items related to gun rights: “Protect Second Amendment Companies”, “Stop Business Gun Boycotts”, and “Protect Second Amendment Companies”. It wasn’t immediately clear what exactly these three bills would mean.

10th place is another proposal that was not mentioned in Abbott’s speech despite its popularity with the GOP base: a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying. This is considered one of the big leftover deals for conservatives after the 2019 session.

While new State House spokesman Dade Phelan has been an advocate of banning taxpayer lobbying, it remains to be seen how receptive the lower chamber will be to the rest of Patrick’s agenda. The House, particularly under former spokesman Joe Straus, has historically slowed or stopped at least some of Patrick’s most controversial ideas. Phelan did not publish a similar priority list.

However, Patrick’s list includes all of the five emergencies Abbott identified in his state speech when the governor promised to use that session to help Texas recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick said in a statement that he supports Abbott’s priorities “as well as other laws to ensure that the Texan economy continues to return stronger than ever after the pandemic.”

Patrick’s priorities drew the quickest blowback from proponents of abortion rights. Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said Patrick raised the wrong questions, especially after the winter storm.

“Just when we think the heads of state can’t go any deeper, Dan Patrick throws this list away – nothing more than a political stunt and a feeble attempt to save face with his grassroots while the Texans still have the necessary health care and critical Need community support. Limon-Mercado said in a statement.

For Patrick, the list of priorities means the end of a relatively quiet start to the session for the typically outspoken lieutenant governor. He’s been raising his public profile in recent days, including announcing his plan for national anthem legislation after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided not to play the song during home games this season.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood was a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, impartial news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. A full list can be found here.

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