Straus pitches path to ending Texas Legislature’s work without need for a special session

Robert T. Garrett, Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN — Amid growing talk of a special session, Speaker Joe Straus has proposed a path to concluding “another highly productive session” — without any need for an overtime stanza.

On Monday, Straus wrote to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, urging that the Senate and House collaborate to quickly pass the two-year state budget and a sunset “safety net” bill that will allow state agencies such as the Department of Transportation and boards that license doctors and mental health therapists to continue to operate.

“The House wants to finish all of our work in the regular session, and we believe that this goal is well within reach,” wrote Straus, a San Antonio Republican.

For the past several days, opponents of a bathroom bill, tighter constraints on city and county property taxes and school vouchers have fretted that the House fumbled on the sunset scheduling bill on a bill-passing deadline Thursday night. Their perceived defender, the House, empowered Patrick and the Senate to take state agencies’ futures hostage in return for passing the measures, the bill opponents said.

The House’s chief bill scheduler, Corpus Christi GOP Rep. Todd Hunter, has said there was no way to predict that a band of Republican rebels would “chub” or delay the sunset safety net bill — or that the House would be four days behind on finishing its “calendars” or bill agendas by the Thursday deadline.