WEEK IN REVIEW
ABBOTT, PATRICK SWORN IN; SENATE CHANGES RULES
(Austin) — Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took office at a ceremony held on the Capitol grounds Tuesday, marking new leadership in the state for the first time in more than a decade. Patrick takes over from David Dewhurst, who has been Lt. Governor since 2003, and Abbott replaces Rick Perry, whose 14-year tenure is the longest in state history. Abbott said in his inaugural address that he wants to keep Texas the best state for business in America. "I will also ensure that we keep Texas number one in the nation for job creation," he said. "We will promote policies that limit the growth of government — not the size of your dreams."
Patrick was more specific on his policy goals during his inaugural address, saying that he will deliver on his campaign promises. "In my campaign I pledged to secure the border, to lower property and business taxes, prioritize, reform and improve public education, build our infrastructure and protect life, family, and the Second Amendment," he said. "That's what I pledged to do as a candidate and that's what I will do as Lt. Governor. My goal is to be the best Lt. Governor in the history of the state." Patrick called for the passage of a school choice program, the highest level of border security funding in the state budget ever and a plan to reduce both business and property taxes this session.
Wednesday, the Senate voted on new rules for the upcoming session and changed a long-standing tradition. For many years, the Senate has operated under the two-thirds rule, which requires that two-thirds, or 21 members, must vote to bring up a bill before it can be considered by the body. This session, that threshold has been lowered to three-fifths, or 19 members. This controversial issue sparked considerable debate, but Administration Chairman and Tyler Senator Kevin Eltife defended the provision as necessary to keep the Senate operating efficiently. "We must work on the rules that allow the Senate to govern in regular session and complete our work in a timely manner," he said. Issues blocked under the two-thirds rule, said Eltife, just come back again in special sessions when Senators have no option to set the agenda.
Senators also approved reducing the number of standing committees from 18 to 14 and limiting the number of congratulatory resolutions to ten per member per session. This will help the Senate run better, said Eltife, and help members focus on the challenges facing the state.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, January 26 at 2 p.m.