Patrick signals his support for a statewide bathroom bill

April 26, 2016

AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing into a national controversy over transgender restrooms, said Tuesday he supports keeping men out of women’s restrooms, even if it takes legislation to do so.

Since the issue erupted into controversy nationally, some Texas lawmakers have said they will support a state law for single-sex restrooms, and the endorsement of that position by Senate-leader Patrick is likely to give that movement momentum.

“I think the handwriting is on the bathroom wall: Stay out of the ladies’ room if you’re a man,” Patrick said outside his Capitol office, confirming a post on his Facebook page that affirmed his opposition to cross-sex restrooms.

“If it costs me an election, if it costs me a lot of grief, then so be it. If we can’t fight for something this basic, then we’ve lost our country.”

Controversy over the issue recently blew up in North Carolina after lawmakers approved a bill that required transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to the sex listed on their birth certificate, not the one they currently identify with.

Similar legislation has been filed in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Minnesota and other states.

It became an issue in the GOP presidential race last week when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said men should be kept out of women’s restrooms, and front-runner Donald Trump said people should be allowed to go in whichever restroom they feel comfortable.

Patrick, who last year along with Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP officials supported the repeal of a Houston ordinance on transgender restrooms, dismissed threats of boycotts and business opposition in other states as “bluff and bluster.” he noted that since Houston repealed its so-called HERO ordinance, by a wide margin in an election, the city has hosted the Final Four basketball championships and will host the Super Bowl in 2017.

“This issue is so clear and simple that it defies belief,” he said. “Do they really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife? . . . Have we gone to far in the world of political correctness that we’ve forgotten common sense, common decency.”

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Border surge fuels sense of safety for many

March 29, 2016

Below are excerpts from a recent San Antonio Express-News article:

Repelling crime at the border, especially the trafficking of people and drugs, is what the state had in mind when it launched Operation Strong Safety in June 2014, spending hundreds of millions in its efforts to help seal the border.

“They’re plundering and raping,” DPS Director Steve McCraw said during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on immigration and border security earlier this year. “You’ve got a border problem as relates to transnational crime.”

Under Govs. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, the Texas Legislature has placed more than 600 troopers and Texas Rangers along the border and installed nearly 2,700 surveillance cameras and other equipment, mostly in the Rio Grande Valley.

The surge has led to more than 22,000 arrests, $1.2 billion worth of drugs seized, and the apprehension of almost 100,000 undocumented immigrants.

In recent months, even the once-harshest critics of the DPS presence seem to agree crime is on the decline.

As the troopers have settled in, it would seem most residents have come to accept them as part of life on the border.

“I think it’s totally different that it was in the beginning,” said state Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City.

Among the objectives of Operation Secure Texas is rooting out corruption in the Rio Grande Valley, a region that has made regular headlines for its far-reaching public corruption scandals, which has cast a pall of suspicion on local authorities.

When Starr County’s tax assessor-collector and six deputy clerks were arrested on theft, bribery and forgery charges last December, the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division and Texas Rangers helped with the investigation.

State investigators also assisted in bringing down a Rio Grande City police investigator in 2015 for his role in a conspiracy to provide a fake police report to a drug trafficker in exchange for $10,000.

Overall, DPS claims 57 arrests connected to public corruption cases along the entire border since June 2014.

Though DPS does not have the authority to enforce immigration laws, when troppers make contact with someone who’s admittedly or suspected to be in the country illegally, that person is referred to federal authorities, the agency said.

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Op-Ed: State troopers getting results on border

March 24, 2016

Re: “An empty photo op at the border,” Editorial, Tuesday:

Your editorial concerning my latest trip to the Texas border was short on facts and long on cheap shots. Your editorial writer apparently didn’t even read the news reports on my trip by your own reporter, Mike Ward.

Here are the facts your recent editorial omitted: Over the last year, 63,000 people have been apprehended trying to enter Texas illegally, including nearly 14,000 people described as criminals, and more than $1.2 billion in drugs has been confiscated at the border over the last few years. The photograph that accompanied your editorial was taken at a recent trail where more than 100 pounds of illegal drugs were seized.

While these operations were conducted jointly by the Texas Department of Public Safety, local law enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol, Texas has taken the lead that is making the difference with our state’s increase in funding, technology, manpower, and air and water assets.

The state of Texas has added more than 2,000 cameras along the Texas-Mexico border in the last year. Those were paid for by the state and installed by the Border Patrol. These cameras are proving to be highly effective in stopping drug smuggling and human smugglers trying to enter Texas.

Your editorial also ignored published reports of my 90- minute meeting with local law enforcement in which chiefs of police from all parts of the Rio Grande Valley reported crime was down. One chief reported that crime had dropped in his city by 15 percent, and another said car thefts had dropped from a high of more than 2,000 in one year to just 111 in the last year. State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa joined me at that meeting to hear how these efforts were being implemented after supporting the state budget. Border security is not a partisan issue.

Your reporter Mike Ward and I also met with longtime South Texas border land owner Richard Guerra, who is also a board member of the South Texas Property Rights Association. He told us landowners
are seeing a major difference on their property since Texas stepped up its efforts and increased funding to help secure the Texas-Mexico border.

Your editorial writer either didn’t know these facts or didn’t bother to inquire about what we learned on our trip. This is a disservice to your readers who expect facts, not cheap shots, when the truth contradicts your political agenda.

One final point — my name is Dan, not Daniel as your editorial wrongly stated. This telling error is a minor detail, but it speaks volumes about your inability to report even the most basic information on this issue. There is a great deal more to report about our efforts at strengthening our border. In the future, I hope your editorial writers will show more interest in learning the facts.

Dan Patrick Named to Republican Lieutenant Governor’s Association Executive Committee

March 23, 2016

Austin – The Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) Republican Lieutenant Governor’s Association (RLGA) named Lt. Governor Dan Patrick today to its 2016 Executive Committee. The committee joins previously announced RLGA Chairman Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (WI) and Co-Chairman Mark Hutchison (NV) in the mission to recruit, support and elect Republican lieutenant governors and candidates in states across the country. Lt. Governor Patrick issued the following statement in response:

“I am truly honored to have been selected for the RLGA Executive Committee, particularly during such a critical election year. The RLGA has done a tremendous job of supporting strong, Republican candidates for lieutenant governor offices nationwide. I’m looking forward to working alongside the 11 other officials from across the country to promote our conservative ideals of small government, free enterprise and individual liberty at the state level.”

Lt. Governor Patrick will host the RLGA in Austin this June. This will be the first time the RLGA has ever had their meeting in Texas. This is a great opportunity for Texas businesses to share their products and services to 32 Republican Lt. Governors.

About the RLGA

The RLGA is the only national organization supporting Republican lieutenant governors and candidates. The RLGA provides lieutenant governors and candidates with financial support and assists in message development. The RLGA currently claims 32 of the 45 Lieutenant Governor offices nationwide, a record number for the organization. Republicans currently hold 15 of the 19 independently-elected positions and 17 of the 25 team-elected/appointed seats.


Lt. Governor Patrick Draws Line in the Sand

March 18, 2016

“I Will Fight Any Effort to Subvert the Will of Voters at National GOP Convention”

AUSTIN – Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who will be a delegate at the National Republican Convention, announced that he will fight any effort that would disenfranchise the millions of voters who have cast ballots and continue to cast ballots in statewide primary elections across the country.

“Talk is escalating among some in our Party suggesting there may be ways to ignore the will of the people in selecting the Republican presidential nominee and instead inject new candidates into the process. It is time for that talk to stop.

“The Republican Primary voters have spoken and are continuing to speak in primaries all across the country. At this point only two candidates, Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, have a legitimate path to the nomination. If neither reaches 1,237 delegates before the Convention, I will work to rally support for Ted Cruz’s nomination and fight any effort to disrupt the process by injecting an illegitimate candidate into the mix.

“I will draw a line in the sand on this issue and stand up for the voice of the people at the Convention. The idea that party bosses would try to undermine the will of the people, and ignore the people’s choice, is outrageous and is precisely why these candidates have attracted the majority of voters’ support throughout the primary process. People are disgusted with those Washington elites who anoint themselves the power brokers on all things in our country. As conservatives, we believe it is the people who are the power brokers. The Washington cartel will not prevail.

“If anyone else is chosen, the Cruz-Trump voters will lose all confidence in the primary nomination process and may not come back to vote in November. At that point, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats prevail.

“I invite other principled conservative leaders, both in Texas and across the nation, to reject parliamentary sabotage and other half-baked strategies and join with me in fighting to make sure the will of Republican primary voters is upheld in our Convention this summer.”

Patrick will be a delegate at large from Texas to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. He was elected Lt. Governor in 2014 with almost 60 percent of the vote. He is Chair of the Ted Cruz for President Campaign in Texas.


Op-Ed: Time to reduce local government revenue cap

February 1, 2016

By: Dan Patrick
February 1, 2016

Texans are frustrated with the unsustainable disconnect between constantly increasing local property taxes and household incomes.

That’s why in 2015, 86 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment to increase their homestead exemption for the first time in nearly 20 years.

But more must be done to prevent Texans from being taxed out of their homes, and that’s why I appointed a Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief to identify the scope of this problem and propose solutions to the next Legislature.

The facts are troubling and indisputable. Since 2005, city and property tax levies have increased several times faster than median household incomes. Across the state, city tax levies have increased 60 percent and county tax levies 70 percent, while median household incomes are up 26 percent.

In San Antonio, where the select committee held its first field hearing last week, city tax levies have increased 55 percent and county tax levies have increased 62 percent, compared to a median household income increase of 22 percent.

This disparity is the result of a property tax system that allows local governments to establish tax rates resulting in an 8 percent increase in revenue every year. (For comparison, the current two-year state budget increased spending by 3.6 percent, or 1.8 percent a year.)

Local property taxes must not be allowed to continue to increase at several multiples of the income of taxpayers. Inflation requires additional revenue to provide the same level of services, but the 8 percent revenue cap is simply too high and must be reduced.

The mere suggestion of reducing the flow of revenue to local governments predictably elicits warnings of reduced civil services, such as police and fire protection, trash collection and road maintenance, but potential reforms would only require cities and counties to make their case to voters before dramatically increasing their revenues. Pending voter approval, cities and counties retain total control over where to set their tax rates. In addition, automatic rollback elections should be required for any government entity seeking to exceed its revenue cap.

While school districts are required to hold rollback elections when they exceed the 8 percent revenue cap, cities and counties further challenge taxpayers through a burdensome process that requires signatures from 7 percent of registered voters before holding a rollback election to overturn the proposed increased tax rate and return to the current rate. Signatures must be submitted within 90 days of the adoption of the higher tax rate. (In smaller jurisdictions, the threshold increases to 10 percent of registered voters.)

According to the Texas secretary of state, there are 884,830 registered voters in San Antonio, and 975,415 registered voters in Bexar County. That means San Antonio residents seeking to overturn excessive tax increases by the city must collect 61,938 signatures, or 68,279 signatures to stop excessive county tax hikes, in just 90 days.

Treating cities, counties and schools the same will eliminate this unequal standard and further protect taxpayers.

Over the next several months, the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief will continue holding hearings across the state, with its next hearing Feb. 11 in Harlingen.

I look forward to the committee’s recommendations, but make no mistake: Preserving the status quo is unacceptable, and the Texas Senate will act on this problem during the 2017 legislative session.

Ally paints a softer side of Cruz ahead of debate

January 29, 2016

San Antonio Express-News (Excerpt)
By: Peggy Fikac
January 28, 2016

AUSTIN – As another GOP presidential debate looms, one of Ted Cruz’s staunchest allies is painting a picture at odds with the U.S. senator’s image as a supremely confident, brash candidate poised for the kill.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is Cruz’s Texas chairman and is campaigning for him in Iowa, said he was with the Cruz family and top team members before the Boulder debate.

“I saw a family that knelt in sincere prayer without any cameras, without any publicity before that debate, asking for God’s guidance,” Patrick said in an interview.

“I saw a candidate who was not like Rocky before a fight – ‘I’m going to go out and knock ‘em out and I’m gonna prevail.’I saw a person who was humbled by the moment and understood the importance of it, and was very aware of what he was about to take on and the seriousness of it, and all the people who were behind him,” Patrick said.

“It was a behind-the-scenes look at Ted that I had never had before. And it wasn’t that of a brash fiery senator who was saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to go out there and knock ‘em out.’ It was a person who was very reflective in prayer very serious in preparation and understood the moment,” Patrick said.

Patrick said that “reassured me I had chosen the right person.”

Patrick pointed out that in a 2013 Texas Tribune interview, he had said he would support Cruz if he ever ran for president.

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January 8, 2016

Did you know: Five of the 10 most conservative cities in America are located in Texas? Yes, you probably did know. But now you have the cold, hard data to back that presumption, because Crowdpac just released statistics ranking the prominence of liberal or conservative ideologies in almost every city and town across America. Instead of basing the rankings on election ballots and voter registration, Crowdpac took a look at political donations since 2002. Thus, the rankings take into account active participation in political parties outside of elections, as well as which specific candidates townsfolk contributed most to (a Bernie Sanders supporter receives more liberal points than a Barack Obama supporter). Each city is ranked on a 10-point scale, 10C being the most conservative and 10L being the most liberal.

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Op-Ed: Why religious liberties must be protected

December 30, 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, it is essential we reflect on the progress that we’ve made and the work yet to be done to protect religious liberties. Religious liberty is the underpinning of our nation and Constitution, and the battle to protect that precious freedom should be fought just as strongly today as it was in 1776.

It’s no wonder that nearly half of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence held seminary or Bible school degrees. Nor is it surprising that John Hancock, the first signer of that American history founding document, said, “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”

Yet, efforts to take those rights from us are still at work: challenges to our national motto, “In God We Trust,” on police cars in Childress; city officials in Orange removing a public Christmas nativity scene out of litigation fears from a group of atheists; or Beaumont city leaders initially blocking police officers from voluntarily participating in Bible studies during their lunch hour.

I took a stand to support religious freedoms on each of these issues and previously led the way to have “In God We Trust” permanently placed in the Texas Senate chamber, added “Under God” to our state pledge, co-authored the “Merry Christmas” bill to combat political correctness in our schools and established an annual Christmas tree tradition in the Texas Senate for the first time in at least 70 years. I was proud to speak out and I will always fight for a nation that was founded upon the Old and New Testaments.

Imagine telling brave men and women who take a potentially life-threatening vow to “Serve, Protect and Defend” that they can’t, on their own time, study their Bible or pray to be kept safe during their work shift. Fortunately, Beaumont city leaders realized trying to keep police officers from Bible studies and prayer was an infringement on the officers’ First Amendment rights; they backed down after I asked them to reconsider.

These scenarios seem all too common in our country that specifically guarantees the free exercise of religion through the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. That’s why the Texas Senate has taken action to reaffirm First Amendment religious liberty protections.

In this year’s legislative session, the Senate passed the Pastors Protection Act to protect houses of worship, religious organizations and their employees and pastors from being required to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies if it would violate their religious beliefs. It also protects such employees, pastors and organizations from lawsuits arising out of the exercise of their First Amendment right.

I also have charged the Senate State Affairs Committee with the task of studying and recommending how the state of Texas should work to affirm the constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty protections of all Texans. The committee is scheduled to have its first hearing on this issue on Feb. 17. As John Hancock penned so many years ago, it is the “Christian and social duty” of all of us to “defend those rights which heaven gave.”

I hope you will join me and the Texas Senate in fighting to preserve our religious freedom. May God bless you and the great state of Texas.

Op-Ed: Dan Patrick is my Texan of the Year

December 8, 2015

Let’s review, shall we? As lieutenant governor, Patrick controls the Senate agenda and is, in many ways, the most powerful figure under the Pink Dome. Of 23 legislative priorities he set out for this year’s session, no fewer than 21 were passed. That includes 4,000 scholarships for math and science teachers, increases in education spending and a plan (approved by voters last month) to spend $2.5 billion on upgrading Texas’ transportation infrastructure. That’s the kind of stuff even Democrats can get behind.

It’s definitely not the stuff that sparks visceral outrage among his ideological opposites — as many political opponents feared when he was elected.

Not that Patrick has shrunk from controversy. He has occasionally sent Democrats and even some moderate Republicans into paroxysms by staking out far-right positions.

Here’s something you may recall. In the midst of a “Black Lives Matter” moment, even before the final echoes of outrage over the arrest and jail death of Sandra Bland, Patrick seized upon the heinous murder of a Harris County deputy and elevated “Police Lives Matter” from slogan to movement. In so doing, Patrick illustrated again how well he understands what motivates and energizes the Texas GOP.

There might be Texas conservatives in higher-profile positions, from pastors in Dallas to a certain junior U.S. senator running for president to the governor. But it is Patrick’s gift with the petit gesture — his mastery of political tactics and strategy, his channeling of right-wing outrage in unapologetic terms — that more accurately and consistently articulates the majority of the Texas body politic today. This is what wins him appearances on FOX News and allows him to avoid mainstream media as much as he wants. In so doing, he has set the pattern for his colleagues.

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