87th LegislatureState SenateStatewide NewsLt. Gov. Dan Patrick Aims to Bolster GOP Strength by Redefining ‘Supermajority’

In a move to keep Democrats from blocking legislation, Texas Lt. Gov. announced plans to pursue a rule-change that will lower the votes needed to bring bills to the Senate floor.
December 9, 2020
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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said in a press release today that he intends to ask the state Senate to approve a rule change that would lower the votes needed to bring legislation to the floor from 19 — three-fifths of the 32-member body — to 18.

The proposed rule change would be to the benefit of Republicans, whose total membership in the upper chamber of the state legislature dropped below the supermajority from 19 to 18 after Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) lost his reelection bid to Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio).

“I intend to ask the Senate to vote to change the number of votes required to bring a bill to the floor for consideration,” said Patrick.

“When I was elected Lt. Governor in 2015, we changed the rule from 21 to 19 so that Democrats were no longer able to veto legislation they didn’t like. The Republican majority now stands at 18. I am recommending lowering the number of votes needed to bring a bill to the floor to 18. A simple majority vote of 16 is needed to pass a bill, but we must be able to get that bill to the floor without Democrats blocking it.”

Patrick’s announcement of his plans to pursue a rule change came as many voters in North Texas began early voting in the Senate District 30 runoff election between Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther and state Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster).

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The lieutenant governor called on the candidates, both Republicans, to tell voters in the district where they stand on his proposed rule change.

Within minutes of his announcement, both Luther and Springer responded in support of Patrick’s planned rule change.

“I completely support the change,” said Luther. “We must pass conservative legislation that Drew Springer and other Republicans have killed in past sessions. This rule change is needed to do just that.”

“I endorse the move to 18 and look forward to voting for it on Jan 12th,” said Springer.

Earlier in the day, Patrick announced that he was appointing Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) to be the vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, replacing Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen).

In past sessions, Lucio has sided with Republicans on several issues, leading some to say that he would be the most-likely Democrat that GOP senators would turn to if the three-fifths rule remained the same.

But presuming that Patrick’s proposal for a new, four-sevenths rule is approved by the Republican-majority Senate in January, the GOP will not need to rely on his support to bring bills for a vote.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.