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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threatens to force special session over 'bathroom bill'

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threatens to...

AUSTIN, Texas - "Thanks to Joe Strauss, we're going to have a special session that he created," stated Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Friday evening at a hastily organized news conference at the State Capitol.

Patrick called for the conference after Texas' Republican House speaker refused state Senate demands to expand and strengthen a "bathroom bill", putting the controversial bill in jeopardy.

Earlier in the evening at another news conference quickly called for, House Speaker Joe Straus said it was "absurd" how much time lawmakers have spent prioritizing efforts to pass a North Carolina-style law that would restrict bathroom rules for transgender people.

The news conference came moments after Straus adjourned his chamber. He did it without appointing members of a committee that might have sought to work more on the issue.

"The House has compromised enough on this issue," Straus said.

In his conference later that night, Lt. Gov. Patrick told reporters that Straus is, "not letting the House set the agenda. He is one person overriding the vast majority of the elected representatives of the House who supported 2899."

Patrick accused Straus of using the language of "left-wing Democrats".

Straus for months has said the bathroom bill would hurt Texas' economy, and he has been joined by top companies and businesses who say it sends a discriminatory message. 

Hollywood and music stars have threatened boycotts if Texas passes a law, and the NFL and NBA have hinted that future events could be pulled out of the state - even though Houston hosted the last Super Bowl in February.

Earlier Friday, technology giant IBM became the latest major corporation to urge Texas against following North Carolina. 

Lt. Gov. Patrick said Friday night that the threats of harming the state's economy are just excuses.

"For months, the Speaker complained, I might not get my NCAA Final Four," said Patrick. 

"He lost that argument. They're coming. In fact, the NCAA supports the language of North Carolina which is now similar to ours. He lost that excuse. He said this would hurt economic prosperity. He's lost that argument because all those reports have been disproven."

Patrick went on to say that he hopes House members won't tolerate "one member standing alone, behind a microphone, telling his members what they're going to do, or telling the people what they can't have." 

He called on Gov. Greg Abbott to call legislation back.

"One day, I'll retire and I'll be sitting on my porch in that rocking chair with my grandkids," said Patrick.  "I don't ever want to look back and say, once I had the opportunity and the power to make Texas better. And I didn't have what it took to stand up to one man who is trying to undermine these two important public policy issues."

The Texas Legislature adjourns Monday until 2019.

Patrick said there is still time to pass the bill, but it's running short. 

He said, "it's late now, but we can find a way." He brought up making amends in a out of bounds conference.

Late Friday evening, Texas Sen. José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia, Chairwoman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, sent ABC-7 statements regarding the possibility of a special session over the so-called "bathroom bill."

"The whole nation is watching. Not only is anti-transgender legislation bad economic policy, it intrudes on local decision-making, and most importantly, it lacks compassion," said Sen. José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. 

"A transgender girl is a girl, and forcing her into a boy's bathroom is state-mandated harassment that makes schools less safe. Furthermore, this bill is unconstitutional  on its face."

Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia, Chairwoman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, said: "My constituents ask me about classrooms, not bathrooms. Every minute the right-wing pushes discriminatory policy and does not focus on Texas having the best schools in the nation lets our constituents down."

Gov. Abbott has previously said he wants to sign a bathroom bill into law, but he's also indicated he'd rather not call a special session on this or any issue.

 

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