Touting the incoming class of Texas senators — state Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) in Senate District (SD) 10, state Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) in SD 11, state Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) in SD 12, Pete Flores in SD 24, and Kevin Sparks in SD 31 — Patrick said it’s “going to [be] the most conservative class ever.”
Patrick underscored his very first priority next session: restoring the penalty for a category of election fraud to a felony.
Senate Bill (SB) 1 of the 87th Legislature’s second special session last year reformed the election code substantially. It was Texas Republicans’ marquee bill during a wild year of pandemic policies, a power grid collapse, and quorum busts.
“We are going to restore voting illegally from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony,” he announced.
“[The reduction] wasn’t in the bill, and it was amended in the House. It came back and we fixed it and they didn’t hear it the second time. I’m going to pass it until they pass it.”
On the House floor, an amendment by state Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) replaced “felony” with “Class A misdemeanor” where the law spells out a penalty for an illegally cast vote.
The two chambers then formed a conference committee, the legislature’s process for reconciling differences in their separate versions of the bill, and the provision was left in.
Piling on, Patrick pointed to other pieces of legislation that passed his chamber to perish across the rotunda: a child gender modification ban, a taxpayer-funded lobbying ban, and Texas monument protection.
Patrick told the crowd the most important bill he’s ever passed was reducing the supermajority threshold required to move past the “blocker bill” from 21 to 19 — a procedural rule change that allows Patrick to take up any legislation he chooses without moving down the calendar in sequential order. Last year, after Flores lost his Senate seat in 2020, Patrick lowered it again, this time to 18.
Patrick has feuded with House leadership on more than one occasion. His grip over the Senate is far tighter than Speaker Dade Phelan’s (R-Beaumont) control over the House. While nearly every vote brought up in the Senate is pre-ordained by the lieutenant governor, outcomes change constantly on the House floor.
The legislature reconvenes in January 2023 for the next regular session.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.