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A Tale of Two Legislatures

On Tuesday we’ll see bathrooms as a Christian issue in the Senate, while the House tries to reform school finance.

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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Here are two starkly different legislative agendas for Tuesday:

The Senate State Affairs Committee will debate who can use what bathroom.

Meanwhile, House Public Education Committee will address how to put $1.6 billion more into public schools to help students and give some relief to taxpayers.

Lobbyists and government insiders keep referring to the House as the “adults in the room,” because Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has kept the Senate focused on social conservative issues. The House seems more determined to resolve problems that affect the everyday lives of Texas. The contrast between the chambers may never be more evident this session than on Tuesday.

The stage was set Monday when Patrick—ahead of the bathroom bill committee hearing on Tuesday—busted down one of the great walls of American government: church and state. He announced at a press conference that he is joining with organizations of Christian ministers in “Operation of One Million Voices” to pressure the Legislature into passing the so-called bathroom bill that limits restroom visitations in publicly owned buildings to the gender on the person’s birth certificate. Many major corporations, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and transgender rights activists say the legislation is discriminatory.

While the bathroom bill always has been a measure aimed at social conservatives, Patrick’s embrace of it as a Christian issue was a surprising step over the invisible wall that has separated church issues from state issues throughout American history. Patrick said he will be joined in his effort to pass the legislation by Vision America, Women on the Wall, Texas Values, and the U.S. Pastor Council.

“That’s one million voices that will be active to see that this legislation gets to the governor’s desk,” Patrick said.

John Graves, president of Vision America, said, “We’re very happy to announce, as the lieutenant governor said, over a million Christians that we’re going to educate and mobilize in this process.”

The Senate State Affairs Committee normally holds hearings in the Senate chamber, where there are 490 seats in the gallery. The hearing on Senate Bill 6, known as the bathroom bill, will be held in an extension committee room with two overflow rooms. The total capacity of the three rooms is 216, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Patrick promised to have more than 300 pastors at the hearings.

There is very little left in the bill that has much to do with bathrooms. The bill does not regulate bathrooms in businesses such as grocery stores or department stores, nor does it regulate bathrooms at sports facilities. It provides some regulation of public school restrooms, but an Obama administration order on that recently was overturned by the Trump administration. The only place it actually regulates bathrooms is in government-owned buildings, which includes university campuses.

But the main thrust of the bill is that it overturns five municipal anti-discrimination ordinances. “We can’t have a superintendent here or a superintendent there or a city here or a city there decide their own policy the vast majority of citizens don’t want enacted,” Patrick said. The no-men-in-women’s-bathrooms theme was used in a 2015 referendum to overturn Houston’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Across the rotunda, state Rep. Dan Huberty said it was only coincidental that the House will hold hearings on school finance reform the same day the Senate hears the bathroom bill. However, the House suspended its own rules to make the hearing occur with just one day’s notice. Rep. Jonathan Stickland objected to the short notice, but was thwarted by the House leadership. Stickland complained that school officials in his district would not have time to prepare and travel to the hearing.

The House, meanwhile, in its apparent effort to show itself as the chamber dedicated to solving everyday problems for Texas, today will begin hearings on putting $1.6 billion into the public schools to ease property taxes in a school finance system that is out of whack. The House legislation would increase spending from

Huberty’s plan increases state spending in all school districts from about $5,140 a year per student to $5,350. But it is especially helpful to districts with high property wealth, where tax revenues are subject to state recapture for redistribution to poorer districts. The plan lowers the local governments’ share of recapture by $163 million in 2018 and $192 million in 2019. There also is funding in the plan to help 154,000 students diagnosed with the learning disorder dyslexia.

“We can do this this session,” said Huberty, a Republican from Humble.

Patrick, who wants passage of a  school voucher plan, has said any school finance reform is too difficult to do in a regular legislative session.

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  • WUSRPH

    You fail to understand that Patrick does not believe in the “separation of church and state” or “any wall of separation”. He believes that the First Amendment says only that the government may not favor one religion over another. That means that he believes that the government can (and in his view should) aid, and advance religions as long as it does not pick one over the others. He believes in using government money to finance church schools and activities, as long as it is open to all churches. (He probably really wishes he could limit it to certain Christian views, but he cannot YET stretch the constitution that far.). He believes in using the power of government to enforce religious values and morals. What he believes is best summed up by a statement the Southern Baptist Convention used during the 1976 celebration of our first 200 years and which has been used frequently since then: “Freedom OF religion does not mean freedom FROM religion.” As such, there is nothing that unusual in his stance on using government to enforce a religious view on this issue or any other.

    • Jed

      conservatives like to point out that the words “wall of separation” do not appear in the constitution.

      but they seem ironically unaware that neither do the words “freedom of religion.”

      there is the free exercise clause and the establishment clause. neither of them means what dan patrick thinks they mean.

      in fact, the true meaning of the establishment clause is to explicitly prohibit what dan patrick and his ilk think is the main point of the 1st amendment.

      • WUSRPH

        In fact, the word “god” or any reference to a supreme being never appears in the Constitution and the only two references to religion are “they shall not” require references.

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        • John Johnson

          As I thought you knew, it makes no difference what the Constitution says; it’s how it is interpreted that counts.

          • deanbob

            That is precisely what liberal progressives believe.

          • John Johnson

            Yep. That’s why Hillary’s loss was so devastating to these teeth gnashers.

          • deanbob

            What was Hillary saying as the voting booths were closing? Was Trump going to accept the election results? Was HE going to claim the elections were rigged? No, she and Obama were claiming Trump was irresponsible for claiming the results could be rigged. And how many of her supporters were echoing the same?

          • St. Anger

            Poor snowflake.

          • WUSRPH

            I did not know that Chief Justice Marshall was a “liberal progressive”… when he authored McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819.

          • WUSRPH

            Justice Scalia disagreed with you. But, what it says is “no religious test” and no aid for religion…those are the only two references….beyond that it is silent on the subject.

          • John Johnson

            I know what Scalia had to say about it…and I wholeheartedly agreed with him and still do. My post was “tongue in cheek” and thought you would surely know that.

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    • SpiritofPearl

      Did the Southern Baptists ever read the First Amendment? I feel certain the justices on the S.C. have as well as the lawyers at the A.C.L.U.

      • WUSRPH

        If you want to get a better understanding of where Patrick and company get their false beliefs about the First Amendment, google Wallbuilders. It is the outfit pushing all this stuff. Its founder claims to be a “historian” but his last book, which claimed to prove that Jefferson never meant what he said about the separation, was recalled by the published and pulped after serious, including religious historians, took a look at it. They twist and turn to deny what Jefferson, Madison, Adams, etc. said and thought.

        • SpiritofPearl

          I’ve read about Wallbuilders. I’ll stick with the Founders.

          • deanbob

            How often have you heard people say things that are not true? How does one decide what is true and what is not? Simply by accepting what someone else says? I believe (and practice) that anyone can say anything;. It is my responsibility to verify what is truth, part truth, or myth. Liberal progressives have an agenda to making the United States, its founders and our history look bad. Are we perfect? Of course not. But name another country that is as responsible for more LIBERTY and more people being helped.

          • SpiritofPearl

            You are entitled to your opinion. I LOVE my country and have no desire to “make it look bad.” Who tells you this stuff?

        • deanbob

          David Barton’s “The Jefferson Lies” uses original source (and not just snippets to makes false accusations) and facts from established recognized genetic testing companies to prove his points. In fact Barton owns many of the founders orifginal documents. How can the founders original words be twisted? Many serious religious historians (Jesuits for 150 years) have morphed Jesus’s charity into social justice.

          • WUSRPH

            I understand he is still trying to push the book that was recalled from the shelves by the original publisher because of so many factual errors and misinterpretations….The man is a advocate, not a historian.

          • deanbob

            My understanding is that another Jefferson author (with his own facts ) made allegations that were addressed by Barton. While I bought and read the original copy, there is 1 with the same title and new cover available on Amazon.

            “so many factual errors and misinterpretations…” Usually facts are provable. I read numerous posts by the author of some of those allegations who failed to provide facts. These days it seems everyone feels entitled to their own facts.

          • WUSRPH

            All I can tell you is that authentic Jefferson scholars found it to distort history and its publisher recalled it and had it taken off the shelves. That is the ultimate act of refutation for a so-called, alleged advocate attempting to masquerade as a historian.

            http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/08/09/158510648/publisher-pulls-controversial-thomas-jefferson-book-citing-loss-of-confidence

          • splendidday

            deanbob- these days they call posts such as yours “alternative facts”

      • dave in texas

        In fairness, the Baptist habit of poking its nose into the affairs of government is a recent phenomenon. In fact, one of the reasons the Establishment Clause is in the Constitution is because of pressure brought to bear by Baptists and other religious groups. It wasn’t until Jerry Falwell and his decidedly un-Christian ilk showed up in the 80s that the Baptists and the fundamentalists started insisting on special treatment. I know that doesn’t make any of this nonsense any better, but I just wanted to throw a little historical perspective into the mix here.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Thanks. Having been raised in the Catholic tradition, I know less about Baptists. There are Southern Baptists and then there are “other” Baptists. My husband’s great-grandfather was a Baptist in western NY state, a different animal than S. Baptists. His descendants are mostly Presbyterians . . .

          • WUSRPH

            Southern Baptists split off over the slavery question…..and became more theologically conservative over the years.

          • SpiritofPearl

            I had forgotten that aspect of the Southern Baptists.

          • deanbob

            How are they different?

          • SpiritofPearl

            Well, I was taught that Protestants believe in “justification by faith alone,” which means “Believe in the lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Catholics believe one must always be in a state of grace in order to go to heaven.

            A lot of value is placed on the nature of sin in Catholicism – mortal vs. venial – and keeping one’s soul free of mortal sin which condemns one to hell. If one has venial sins on their soul at death, they go to purgatory and eventually get to heaven. In addition Catholics have confession to cleanse the soul of sin as well as acts of contrition.

            I left Catholicism when I was 22. It seemed contradictory to me that a loving god who created us with flaws could punish us so severely for our shortcomings.

          • deanbob

            I was an Episcopalian, and left for similar reasons, esp when one believes John 3:16
            ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

      • deanbob

        What is your point? The ACLU was started by a self avowed communist.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Who?

          • deanbob

            You’ll learn more if YOU do that research.

          • WUSRPH

            The facts are:

            The ACLU was founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Walter Nelles, Morris Ernst, Albert DeSilver, Arthur Garfield Hays, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

            At least one of whom may have been a communist….Others were Republicans and Democrats, including a eventual justice of the SCOTUS. Does that make it a Communist, a Republican or a Democratic organization?

            Your attempt to cast aspersion on the ACLU for the views of one of its founders is an old, old McCarthyite tactic. At least one of our Founding Fathers was an atheist. Does that make the US an atheistic organization?

          • SpiritofPearl

            Who cares? The ACLU does great work to protect our constitutional rights – even those of the KKK.

        • BCinBCS

          deanbob wrote: “The ACLU was started by a self avowed communist.

          So what is your point?

          • deanbob

            Just stating history.

    • Texas Publius

      Patrick is for the Christian version of Sharia. His is the Christian religion, not the Christian faith.

    • deanbob

      Jefferson wrote a letter to Baptist ministers and used the phrase “separation of church and state” to illustrate that the federal government had no business telling people/states what their religion should be. In fact, Massachusetts had an official state religion.

      • BCinBCS

        deanbob: Jefferson wrote a letter to Danbury Baptist ministers and used the phrase “separation of church and state” to illustrate that the federal government had no business telling people/states what their religion should be.

        FIFY

        In his letter to the Danbury Baptists, Thomas jefferson did not write that the federal government had no business telling states what their religion should be. In fact, it implicitly says that states, as well as the federal government, should not do so.

        Here is the relevant passage from that letter:
        Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

        • deanbob

          Semantics?

          • WUSRPH

            As noted above, both of you are partially correct. Jefferson favored the separation of church and state at all levels, local, state and federal. But, at the time, he knew that the First Amendment did not apply to the States. That is why he was encouraging the states to adopt their own acts of religious freedom.

          • BCinBCS

            Semantics?

            Nope, straight up English.

      • WUSRPH

        You are correct about that various original states had official religions. Most did. New Hampshire was the last to do away with one in 1867. . You are incorrect, however, about what Jefferson (and Madison who used the same phrase) meant by “a wall of separation”. (Madison’s meaning is particularly important since Madison was the primary author of the Bill of Rights.)

        It is true that the original colonies had officially recognized churches. It is also true that nothing in the First Amendment stopped that because at the time it was held that the First Amendment (and all the Bill of Rights) controlled only actions by the Federal Government and not those of the states. This is why Jefferson and others pushed the States to adopt their own equivalents to the First Amendment. In Virginia he pushed thru the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1777. It was used as a model for the First Amendment. (BYW, the Statute is something he was so proud of that it is one of the three accomplishments of which he was most proud he had inscribed on his grave stone.)

        The protections granted by the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, were not extended to cover the actions of State governments until the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868. Extending those rights to all the states was one of the purposes of that amendment. You, like Barton, use parts of history and parts of facts, not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

        • BCinBCS

          Thanks, W, I stand (partially) corrected. I was using today’s knowledge to interpret yesterdays writings, forgetting that the Bill of Rights did not apply to states until later.

          I suppose this is a prime example of why historians are absolutely necessary and not an impediment to modern society. 😉

    • enp1955

      To Patrick, the words “religion” and “Christian” are synonymous. He fails to recognize that any other religion even exists, or, if it does, that it holds any legitimate sway in the world. It is one of his many areas of blindness.

  • John Bernard Books

    Lefties back Straus as 47%ers can’t believe the gravy train is over….
    “It is what he said next that caught our attention: “The reality is, half of Americans can’t afford to write a $500 check,” Colberg said. He spun that stunning statistic by saying that when US customers sign up for a cellular plan, they’re willing to buy protection in case “they lose that phone or something happens to it.”
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-06/half-americans-cant-write-500-check

    There is no shame in a handout anymore…..

    • deanbob

      Can you expound on what you mean?

  • grubber

    Thus destroying any pretense that this bill was about ‘public safety.’

  • donuthin2

    Thank goodness for calendars. Maybe it will never see the light of day in the House.

    • deanbob

      Because Speaker Strauss will get nothing conservative done yet again?

  • José

    This looks like a good opportunity to remind folks that Dan Patrick and his Army of the Easily Offended do not represent all Christians. A lot of us put more stock in the words of the Lord rather than the braying of a publicity hungry, egocentric ideologue.

    • dave in texas

      Have any of those folks ever even heard of the Sermon on the Mount?

      • SpiritofPearl

        They like the Eight Beatitudes better, especially the one about “Admonish the sinners.”

      • José

        Somebody done messed around with their copy of the Good Book and tore out the 25th chapter of Matthew and threw it away.

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      • deanbob

        Meaning?

        • dave in texas

          Meaning that if they read it and took its messages to heart, they wouldn’t be constantly showing hatred and bigotry toward people who were different than themselves. What on earth did you think it meant?

          • deanbob

            Since when does believing differently make one a hater? If they read your opinions and called you a hater and a bigot, how would you feel?

          • Jed

            i am so over this faux conciliatory stance by the new convervatists.

            you can’t call for violating almost every aspect of the US constitution and then pretend to be the reasonable one.

            sorry. go re-brand with yourself somewhere else. i don’t need to see that.

          • dave in texas

            Good grief, do you have anything to add other than deflections, goal post shifting, and I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I? Because that’s all I’ve seen from you throughout this entire post. I’m done here.

    • WestTexan70

      These folks are religious, but they ain’t followers of Jesus.

      • deanbob

        How so?

        • BCinBCS

          See Dave’s earlier reply to you.

        • splendidday

          They’re Frauds.They know Texans are religious fanatics and push Christianity every chance they get so they elect religious fanatics like themselves. Loyalty to one’s country, efficient & honorable governing has nothing to do with it.Children go hungry, environment is trashed, pot holes ruin one’s car, the rest of Texas’ infrastructure has gone to hell, insurance companies pay for play. Texas is a red state and look what we have for President these days, but we have all that faux “Christianity” Check it out: Of all states in this country Texas comes about 40th in every service to humanity.

        • John Johnson

          There is an Old Testament and a New. Jesus’s resurrection was supposed to move us from Old to New. That, for the most part, has not happened. We combine the two. If Jesus was here today, he would condemn us for most of our actions as those of “pseudo” Christians.

          He would have no borders; he would minister to all; he would welcome all; he would have us giving our children’s inheretences to those in need; he would be ripping and snorting through the “churches” that promulgate OT thinking.

          I am not willing to do all of these things. I am a pseudo Christian. It is high time that others accept this fact.

  • Leroi

    Having Dan Patrick as LG is almost as bad as having Trump as President. Both are trying to lead us off a cliff.

    • deanbob

      I thought we have already gone off it.

  • Texas Publius

    I can’t recall a single Texas Lt Governor, Democrat or Republican, who tried to urgently cram more new regulations on business thru the Senate than Dan Patrick. True statement.

    • deanbob

      Other than the bathroom issue, what are those other new regulations?

  • deanbob

    What conservative issues did the Texas house pass last year? How many conservative issues never made of our committee because Speaker Strauss and his Democrat lite cronies (Byron Cook et al) along with the Democrats squash?

    • WUSRPH

      guns, tax cuts, constitutional convention, a bunch of stuff……

    • donuthin2

      As long as they keep dealing with irrelavents, they need to die in committee.

  • John Bernard Books

    How many democrat State Reps and Senators are under indictment/convicted or being investigated by the FB?
    “Lawyers for indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Wednesday asked a judge to dismiss four of the 13 felony charges against her, arguing that an agreement she signed in September to waive the statute of limitations on those four counts was invalid for technical reasons.”
    http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/judge-leery-rep-dawnna-dukes-request-dismiss-felonies/umxsbjz5qqcdEGUMFRWDZK/

    As my daddy used to say not all democrats are crooks but all crooks are democrats.

  • John Bernard Books

    Do you support the progressive cause controlled breeding…..
    “The progressive mob that disrupted Charles Murray’s appearance last week at Middlebury College was protesting a 1994 book read by few if any of the protesters. Some of them denounced “eugenics,” thereby demonstrating an interesting ignorance: Eugenics — controlled breeding to improve the heritable traits of human beings — was a progressive cause.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-liberals-who-loved-eugenics/2017/03/08/0cc5e9a0-0362-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html?tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.1a62d5f15fb3

    liberals are some cold blooded killers….

  • WUSRPH

    I see where Cruz sent all the GOPers in the Legislature a letter promoting “choice” (using public tax dollars to fund private and church schools). If anyone sees a copy, can you give us any idea of what constitutional grounds Cruz cites? As the former Solicitor General of Texas (a title invented for him) and a self-declared expert on the constitution (federal at least) you would think he would have some opinion on the matter. I presume that he would fall back on the argument used for the Texas Equalization Grant (TEG) program which tries to sidestep the issue by giving the money to an individual and then let him/her spend it the way they want with a wink and a nod that it isn’t going to church-related schools. You know it would be funny if in trying to pass vouchers for elementary and secondary (and for profit trade schools) they wound up killing the decades old TEG program.

  • John Bernard Books

    Are dems all fools?
    “Barack Obama’s brother Malik Obama tweeted out a birth certificate on Thursday allegedly belonging to his brother Barack.
    The certificate is from a hospital in Mombassa, Kenya.
    Baby Barack was a bouncing 7 pounds 1 ounce.
    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/03/breaking-malik-obama-tweets-alleged-barack-obama-birth-certificate-kenya/

    how many dems involved in coverup….