Apr 18, 2024 - Politics

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines his priorities

Illustration of a notification on the Texas State Capitol building.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has outlined 57 issues for the state Senate to look into — ranging from border security to innovative power generation — before the next legislative session begins in January.

Why it matters: Patrick has often been at odds with fellow GOP state leaders but he wields considerable power as presiding officer of the Senate.

  • The Patrick document serves as a roadmap of policy priorities for Texas lawmakers.

Context: Patrick's staff created the initial list of policy charges after reviewing hundreds of ideas submitted by the 31 state senators.

  • The office says it may release a second, shorter list by the end of the year.

Flashback: Property tax relief and a divisive plan to offer families public funding for private education dominated legislative debate last year.

  • Tax relief passed and school vouchers didn't, though supporters have said they'll try again.

What's new: Patrick's priorities for the Senate Education Committee don't explicitly mention school vouchers, which lawmakers have referred to as school choice.

  • But the lieutenant governor has expressed support for reviving the idea, despite opposition from public school officials.
  • "The priorities of the conservative majority of Texans will be accomplished, including school choice, continued property tax relief, and strengthening the power grid," Patrick said in a statement.

Key issues include…

🔌 Power grid: Examine the state's ability to keep pace with increasing electricity demand as the population increases.

🏠 Insurance prices: Identify ways to make homeowners insurance cheaper.

🧑‍🏫 Education: Boost reading and math skills in students, and improve standardized tests like the STAAR.

📢 Free speech: Review colleges' policies to prevent antisemitism and look into campus policies protecting free speech rights.

🤑 Housing affordability: Study the housing supply, homelessness and property rights regulations.

🧠 Mental health services: Monitor how money is being spent statewide on expanding mental health services and inpatient facilities. Expand access to care for children with behavioral health needs.

🤖Tech: Evaluate the impact of artificial intelligence.

What's next: Senators will examine the topics in committees over the next few months. They will submit policy recommendations by Dec. 1

  • The legislative session starts Jan. 14.

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