Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick's legislative agenda for 2017 would almost be funny if it weren't so predictably troubling.
Of course, Patrick's agenda, released this week, offers all of the usual goals. He wants the state Legislature to come up with a balanced budget, reform property taxes and sign off on school choice. And he really wants Texas to keep a tight spending cap.
All of that is par for the course. But none of the real issues he wants to address, from body armor for cops to reducing the handgun-licensing fee, reforming the state's Child Protective Services system and changing the method of raising tuition by state colleges and universities, get as much lip service from Patrick as his favorite pet causes.
Yeah, we're going to be talking about bathrooms and who can use which toilet facility once again because Patrick is intent on getting the "Women's Privacy Act," also known as the bathroom bill, through the Lege in the session due to start in January. The bill would force transgender people to use the bathroom designated for the sex that is on their birth certificates.
Patrick has been out touting the measure, which will apply only to women's restrooms, as a way to "protect" women. He has said that if the bill fails, women will be attacked in restrooms by sexual predators.
(However, Patrick seems to be just fine with having been President-elect Donald Trump's right-hand man in Texas, despite the numerous accusations that Trump has assaulted and groped women over the years. Of course, these alleged assaults weren't in bathrooms, so maybe that's a key distinction.)
And that's not the end of the very important issues that Patrick intends to tackle during the upcoming session while not getting around to dealing with school funding issues, for example. Patrick is also intent on getting a photo voter identification law passed. Because, you know, what we need right now is to create more impediments to keep people from the polls.
He also pledged to dig into issues related to fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions. Apparently, Texas lawmakers didn't do enough to restrict a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose last time around. "We will continue to fight to protect the dignity and sanctity of life by increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue, among other protections, and we will ban partial birth abortion in Texas," Patrick stated in the release issued Monday.
See, Patrick wants to protect women in the bathrooms, but that's about as far as his protective instincts go for females. Just peachy.
On the upside, with Trump taking office in January, we may all be using the keep-your-legs-crossed form of birth control and trying coat hangers, unregulated back-room clinics and crossing the border into Mexico to have any semblance of control over reproductive rights in the very near future, so maybe it won't matter at all by then.
On a different note, even though Patrick is not going to demand the Railroad Commission at least be renamed to reflect the fact that the state agency regulates oil and natural gas and has nothing to do with trains, he has put one item on the agenda everyone can get behind. Curbing the number of illegal teacher-student relationships ended up on his to-do list for the upcoming term.
"With the rapid increase in the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, legislation is needed to strengthen the reporting and training requirements, and establish appropriate penalties," Patrick said, according to the release. "Priority must be given to protecting our students at every level of the school system."
So at least we can all agree that's a good one. Now if only he'd forget about just about everything else on that list.
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