Planned Parenthood Sues Texas in Dispute Over Funding for Clinics

November 24, 2015

HOUSTON — Planned Parenthood sued Texas officials in federal court in Austin on Monday, seeking to block the state from cutting off its Medicaid funding, the latest in a series of lawsuits it has filed against Republican-led states after the controversy over its use of fetal tissue.

Texas and a handful of other states — including Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana — have moved to eliminate Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood amid the controversy. Secretly recorded videos that were released starting in July purported to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of aborted fetal tissue and discussing the issue with abortion opponents who posed as representatives of a biomedical firm.

Days after Gov. Greg Abbott said in October that the state was canceling the group’s Medicaid funding, state health department investigators arrived at Planned Parenthood sites in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Brownsville with orders to turn over thousands of pages of documents, including patients’ records.

Texas lawmakers have taken other actions against abortion providers. In 2013, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature passed some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country. The bill led to a court case the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear, but has also had a wide-ranging impact on women’s health, abortion rights supporters said.

Texas officials have said cutting off Medicaid funding and the state’s abortion restrictions were aimed at ensuring women received safe health care and protecting unborn children. “Texas must be able to ensure its Medicaid providers protect the health and safety of those seeking services,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement Monday. “Simply stated, Planned Parenthood cannot be trusted.”

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Lt. Governor Patrick Statement on Dallas Bathroom Ordinance

November 11, 2015

AUSTIN – Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, issued the following statement in response to the actions of the Dallas City Council yesterday:

“I was very proud to help lead the recent effort where an overwhelming majority of voters in Houston successfully voted down the misnamed and misguided HERO ordinance that was last week. That’s why yesterday’s decision by the Dallas City Council, in closed session, to fast-track the enactment of a similar ordinance to allow men in women’s restrooms is both mind-boggling and appalling.

“This ordinance isn’t about discrimination, it’s about political correctness – and Dallas city leaders have put political correctness ahead of both common sense and common decency. The facts are clear. No woman wants a man to be allowed in a ladies restroom or locker room, no matter the reason. And no man wants his wife, daughter, mother, or sister to be forced by law to contend with such an uncomfortable, disruptive, and potentially dangerous intrusion.

“This ludicrous ordinance, like the one in Houston, reveals officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values, I have no doubt that if this issue is put to the voters, as opposed to being decided without adequate public notice and discussion, the people of Dallas – like those in Houston – will give it a resounding no.”


Lt. Gov. Patrick urges support for propositions

October 6, 2015

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t believe property taxes should be the backbone of governmental funding, so he’s traveling the state to drum up support for a proposition to lower property taxes without cutting the money going to schools.

Patrick was in Corpus Christi Monday, and stopped at the airport for a brief meeting with reporters to talk about the seven propositions Texans will vote on next month. His emphasis, however, was on propositions 1 and 7.

The first, which aims to raise the homestead property tax exemption from $15,000 to $25,000, is the first step of a long-term plan to dissociate property tax from increasing appraisal values to alleviate the financial strain on Texans, he said.

Speaking passionately, Patrick said the concept of property appraisals — and property taxes — rising 7-to-9 percent annually while incomes only grow 2-to-3 percent “just doesn’t work.”

He added the state Legislature budgeted $600 million this year to pay school districts any shortfalls in their funding that stem from property tax revenue declining if the proposition is approved. That $600 million comes from the growth in the Texas economy, not from cuts to other government agencies, he explained.

The last proposition on the ballot, and the second one Patrick emphasized Monday, also puts the state’s growing sales tax revenue to use. Proposition 7 would allow the Legislature to designate a portion of sales tax revenue to the Texas Department of Transportation for highway construction projects across the state.

Patrick estimated the proposition would inject Texas roadways with about $2.5 billion annually if approved, and he said not approving it could stunt the state’s growth.

Texas voters will decide on Nov. 3.

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Lt. Gov. Patrick visits San Angelo, says Texas in state of political flux

September 23, 2015

SAN ANGELO, Texas – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick dropped into San Angelo on Tuesday as part of a statewide tour and recalled another time he was here: “It was 1980 and 110 on the thermometer,” Patrick said.

Then a sportscaster, he was covering the Houston Oilers practicing here at their summer football camp.

“I never thought at that time I would become lieutenant governor.”

He remembered dining at Zentner’s Daughter on that trip and was happy to find the restaurant still here, visiting it at lunch.

Patrick met with Angelo State University president Brian May and some local business leaders, including representatives from Hirschfeld Industries steel company and others from ranching to retail.

Patrick said this election year brings a time of great change to West Texas, as numerous officials have announced they are not running for re-election.

“It’s unusual to have so much change at one time,” he said. “Some of the leaders will be in office for 10 years or more.”

Republican Charles Perry, who represents District 28, is among the new blood in the Texas Senate, attaining office a year ago in a special election. He replaced Troy Frazier, who had served this geographically huge district since the 1990s.

“I’ve been singing the praises of your senator,” Patrick said. “He is a strong conservative and had big shoes to fill.

“It is rare for a freshman to chair a committee.”

Perry heads the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs, all of major importance in West Texas.

The lieutenant governor said the 2015 legislative session was successful and that “people think it’s one of the best seasons.”

Patrick highlighted the reduction of business tax by 25 percent, adding that the goal is to reduce the tax further every session and eventually eliminate it.

He supports all seven constitutional amendments that voters will decide Nov. 3, emphasizing:

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Endorses Bryan Hughes in SD1 Open Seat Contest

August 24, 2015

AUSTIN – Dan Patrick, Lt. Governor of Texas, endorsed State Representative Bryan Hughes Tuesday in the race to replace retiring District 1 State Senator Kevin Eltife.

“Bryan has earned the respect and admiration of conservatives all across Texas for his work in the Texas House. He is just the sort of leader we need to join our tremendous conservative team in the Texas Senate. Bryan is a principled and reliable conservative. I need Bryan Hughes, a true conservative, with me in the Texas Senate in the 85th Legislative Session that begins in January 2017,” said Patrick.

Lt. Governor Patrick recorded a video message that is being sent to voters throughout District 1.

Patrick has already committed to appear at two fundraising events in support of Hughes, one in Austin September 1st and one in Tyler later this fall.


Lt. Governor Makes Endorsements in Six State Senate Races

August 24, 2015

AUSTIN – Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has formally endorsed in six State Senate races for the 2016 Republican Primary.

“I need these members back for the 85th Legislative Session that begins in January 2017. Each are key members of a team that achieved tremendous success passing conservative legislation during the 84th Session, a Session that most observers believe was one of the most, if not the most, conservative and productive Senate Session in the history of our Great State,” Patrick said. “Despite our success, there is still much to be done.”

Lt. Governor Patrick recorded endorsement videos for each of these Senators, and is sending the video messages into each member’s district.

Endorsing Jane Nelson for re-election, Patrick said, “I appointed Jane as the first Chairman of a regular Session Finance Committee; she did a masterful job in that role.”

Endorsing Brian Birdwell for re-election, Patrick said, “I appointed Brian as Chair of Nominations and of the subcommittee on Border Security; he did an incredible job in that dual role.”

Endorsing Larry Taylor for re-election, Patrick said, “I appointed Larry as Chairman of Education, a committee I chaired in my last Session as a Senator, and he did an incredible job chairing one of the toughest committees in the Legislature.”

Endorsing Charles Perry for re-election, Patrick said, “I appointed Charles as Chair of Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Water. Even though he was a freshman Senator, he did an incredible job in his first Session.”

Endorsing Lois Kolkhorst for re-election, Patrick said, “Lois had one of the most comprehensive committee assignments and heaviest workloads in the Texas Senate. She did an outstanding job on all of her committees including Finance.”

Endorsing Brandon Creighton for re-election, Patrick said, “Brandon was one of our conservative leaders on the Senate floor who helped us achieve the goals we set for ourselves during this past Session. I knew I could trust his conservative values to help pass key legislation.”


TCC Members Voted to End State Investments in Iran

August 6, 2015

Companies and investors dealing with Iran aid a threatening foreign regime that is pursuing nuclear- weapons capability, brutally repressing its citizens while knowingly violating human rights, and sponsoring insidious forms of terrorism. Based on these dangerous actions antithetical to American security and prosperity, U.S. state governments, which manage trillions of dollars of taxpayer money through pension funds[1], should divest from and deny contracts to companies that do business in Iran, as is expressly allowed for by federal law.[2]

In the 83rd Texas legislative session, state lawmakers enacted SB 200 to do precisely that. Under the bill, all “state governmental entities”, including the Employees Retirement System, the Teacher Retirement System, and all municipal, county, and local retirement systems, are required to divest from companies that are engaged in business activities in Iran. In addition, the State Pension Review Board is instructed to create a list of all “scrutinized” Texas companies that have contracts with or provide supplies (both military and non-) or services to the government of Iran, as well as ones in which the Iranian government has a direct or indirect equity share. The list must be updated annually and distributed to the legislature and attorney general. For each company engaged in active business operations in Iran:

–>A state governmental entity must send a notice warning the company that it may become subject to divestment by state governmental entities.

–>The company has an opportunity to clarify its Iran-related activities and whether they are subject to the state’s divestment scheme. If the company continues to have scrutinized active business operations in Iran following the warning, the state must sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly-traded securities of the company.

–>All of the divested assets must be removed from state’s investment portfolio.

–>Each year, a publicly available report is filed that identifies all securities sold, redeemed, divested.

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The Best And Worst States To Make A Living In 2015

June 25, 2015

For states looking to land on the positive end of this annual ranking, the lessons are simple: Offer healthy wages, manageable taxes, a low cost of living, and safe working environments. No extra points will be awarded for scenic beauty.

“The big picture is good–the job market is getting better these days, we’ve even seen wage growth start to tick up. But it kind of breaks down a little when you start to look state by state,” said Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for and author of the study.

“We tend to talk about the U.S. economy and the job market as if they’re all one thing, but it’s too big for that. There are sharp differences from one state to another.”

To determine the best and worst states to make a living this year, personal finance site considered average wages, taxes, cost of living, unemployment rate, and incidents of workplace safety incidents (including illness, injuries, and deaths) for each state. The study drew on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), and D.C. think tank the Tax Foundation.

Washington state cedes its lead this year to Texas which moves out of second place to claim the title of the best state to make a living this year. Texans benefited from a lower than average cost of living that helped them maximize average wages only slightly above average. Very low numbers of workplace safety incidents coupled with no income tax puts the Lone Star State on top, while Washington moves to second place.

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Statement From Lt. Governor Patrick on Signing of 2016-17 Budget

June 21, 2015

AUSTIN – Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released the following statement following Governor Greg Abbott signing the 2016-17 budget into law:

“I am proud of the budget that Governor Abbott signed today. It not only addresses the priorities of Texans but maintains our conservative principles.

“This budget includes $3.8 billion in tax relief for property owners and businesses, $1.3 billion in funding for transportation infrastructure, and $800 million for enhanced border security, a dramatic increase that will make our state and nation safer.

“At the same time, this budget is well under estimates of population growth and inflation, billions under the state spending limit, and does not include any spending from the Rainy Day Fund.

“A budget of this nature is a result of fiscal discipline and a commitment to fund the state’s needs while refraining from spending all available revenue. When the legislature reconvenes, it should be well positioned to provide additional tax relief while continuing to hold the line on spending.

“I also commend Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson for her outstanding leadership and effectiveness in guiding this budget to final passage.”


Abilene Reporter-News: Legislative accomplishments dovetail with Patrick’s agenda

June 12, 2015

ABILENE, Texas – Dan Patrick went first to border security.

On Wednesday, the state’s new lieutenant governor basked in the glow of an “A-minus” 84th session for the state Senate. Patrick is on a fly-in tour to talk about the accomplishments of legislators, whom he does not expect to be called back for a special session.

“Terrific job,” he said of the work of the senators over whom he presides. Patrick was elected in November to succeed David Dewhurst, whom he had soundly defeated in the Republican primary. Texans, he said, were eager to see what would come of the session under new leadership, with Gov. Greg Abbott also new to the job. House Speaker Joe Straus, however, was back in his role.

“We made a lot of promises,” Patrick said. The voters, he said, expected follow-through.

After listing the topics he wanted to highlight — including public education, property and business tax relief, and transportation, Patrick first addressed border security. A Senate plan to spend $800 million was set forth, close to triple what was available under former Gov. Rick Perry.

“This is so important to our national security,” Patrick said, citing drug cartels, criminals, sex traffickers and terrorists as potentially crossing the border into the United States if not thwarted.

The result of tightening the border, he said, is this: Although 7,000 to 8,000 people each week were trying to cross last summer, the number has dwindled to 2,500.

How will the money be spent? Paying Texas Department of Public Safety officers for 10-hour days, or the equivalent of having 600 officers on duty, and hiring more officers. There also will be money spent on technology and money set aside if the governor needs to call the National Guard to the border, as Perry did.

It was interesting that Patrick talked first about border security. Tax relief — and potential taxation — likely has a more direct impact on more Texans.

He said voters in November will have a say in putting into the state constitution a prohibition of sales tax on home and business property sales. Thirty-eight states now allow that, he said, but it’s not good for Texas.

Patrick, who formerly headed the Senate’s education committee, championed parents’ right to choose a school for their child, briefly noting that the House did not follow through on school choice. He called the new A-F grading system for schools a means of “transparency” for parents. If a school their child would attend is average or failing, parents have the right, he believes, to shop elsewhere.

In Abilene, the new Texas Leadership Charter Academy, ironically to be housed at a former Abilene ISD elementary campus (College Heights), is accepting applications. The city has been served for nine years by Premier High School.

Patrick reaffirmed his stances in favor of education choice, against abortion and for protection he said is afforded by the Second Amendment, including the carrying of a firearm on  college campuses by those qualified to do so. That shows that five months into his new job, he is not backing down from the beliefs that brought him to the public spotlight and ultimately won him election. Still, he has critics.

Though Patrick’s views are based on personal conviction, he deftly justified his  positions with fact. For example, abortion clinics must provided the same care as an ambulatory surgical center, a law that an appeals court upheld Tuesday with one exception. Not all clinics could, meaning that many shut down and only seven are open today. Thus, getting an abortion in Texas is harder.

Patrick helped write the sonogram bill passed in 2011 and later upheld in courts. This legislation “will continue to keep Texas as the leader in the nation in protecting life.”

Abbott separately cheered Tuesday’s ruling, which set up a predicted showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.

To this point, Patrick has been strategic in his new job, thus attaining a measure of job security.