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Bum Steer Awards 2018 No. 1: Dan Patrick

Our lieutenant governor, for his eagerness to squander his power, waste our time, and drag Texas politics into the bathroom, is our Bum Steer of the Year.

By January 2018Comments

Illustration by Rami Niemi

Last February, at the start of the 85th legislative session, this magazine named Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick the most influential person in Texas politics. And for good reason: in the months leading up to the session, he had deftly maneuvered to set the state’s agenda, and he let it be known that he would tolerate little dissent in the upper chamber. What Patrick wanted, he intended to get, and he planned to bulldoze right over anyone who stood in his way, including, if necessary, Speaker Joe Straus and Governor Greg Abbott. When we placed Patrick on our cover, we did so along with two words: in charge.

Early in the session, it looked as though things were going the lieutenant governor’s way. He and his committee chairs steadily passed his priority legislation. He got bills on virtually all of his wish-list items: school choice, property taxes, sanctuary cities, student-teacher relationships, partial-birth abortion, even hailstorm lawsuit reform. Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Then came Senate Bill 6, which was branded as the Women’s Privacy Act but was better known as the “bathroom bill.” It was ostensibly designed to protect women from men pretending to be women from entering a public bathroom and assaulting them, even though there was no instance of such a thing occurring in Texas. The effect of the bill, whether intentional or not, would have been to marginalize transgender people. Right from the start, the bill was a solution in search of a problem, an ill-advised, half-baked, disingenuous stunt that ran a very real risk of putting in jeopardy one of the most vulnerable populations in our state.

Dan Patrick Bathroom Bill Bum Steer

People the lieutenant governor should have listened to tried to talk him out of it. Prominent members of the business community stood dead set against it. They pointed to North Carolina, where the passing of a similar bill in 2016 resulted in a fiasco. A San Antonio Area Tourism Council study predicted Texas would lose more than $3 billion a year in tourism business if the bill passed. The Texas Association of Business warned that the bill would cause problems with employee recruitment and retention. Companies such as Apple, IBM, Tenet Health, South by Southwest, Dow, and Dell formed a group called Keep Texas Open for Business, with the express purpose of stopping the bill. Even Big Oil joined the resistance.

The Republican-controlled House, too, sent warning signs. The normally reserved Speaker Straus piped up to say he thought the state had far more important priorities, calling the bathroom bill “manufactured and unnecessary.” The Senate Bill sat for months in the House but never got to the floor. Eventually the House passed its own version, diluted to harmlessness, which Patrick promptly declared unacceptable. The clock was running out, and rather than let the bill go, Patrick took hostage two bills that would keep alive a handful of state agencies—including the one that licenses doctors—in order to force a special session.

A million taxpayer dollars and a monthlong special session later, the same forces that had blocked the bathroom bill earlier halted it again. The whole episode was a master class in waste. The most influential person in Texas politics used his vast power to manufacture hysteria (boys and girls showering together at school!) to pass a law few in the state wanted, only to see all his efforts come to naught. In his obsession with where people pee, Patrick flushed away much of his political capital and a lot of taxpayer money—and put at risk untold millions in economic activity. That makes him our 2018 Bum Steer of the Year. 

Want more? See the dozens of dishonorable Texans who didn’t make the Top Eight. 

Or, go back to the beginning of the Bum Steers package. 

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  • Kozmo

    In a related bit of fallout, the pre-emptive move by many restaurants and clubs to change all their bathrooms to “unisex” has resulted in many establishments having NO designated Women’s room. Thus men are free to befoul ALL restrooms, not just their own. Women of my acquaintance are furious at this new development.

    • Mario Lehmann

      I have promoted concert tours and shows in Texas, England and Europe since 1985… go into ANY Venue, Club or Dive Bar this whole wide world over and take a gander at the women’s toilettes… 10 times more disgusting and puke inducing as any men’s bathroom… we used to pay out custodians a $50 premium per head to clean the so called prim and proper women’s toilettes just to get them clean after sold out shows…

      • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

        Gotta york somewhere…

    • Mrs. Lansdowne

      In the past I owned a restaurant. A fine dining, white table cloth restaurant.
      At the end of business any night, the men’s room was clean, with a bit of evidence of a “miss” or two, but the ladies’ room was anther story. Used sanitary products on the floor, unflushed toilets, etc. I have never understood why the ladies room is usually a pig sty.

  • PrattonTexas

    I’m so glad that Patrick is willing to buck the self-annointed smarter than us crowd and take on the issue of overreaching local government regulations – which is where the “bathroom” bill comes from – or do you not remember the huge fight in Houston where voters overturned the liberal city on the issue? The “bathroom bill” protected business from local regulation on the issue allowing each private property owner to set his or her own policies as opposed to what some local city council decides.

    • Katrina Rose

      Funny how its only “overreaching local government regulations” if its something you don’t like. I remember the days when conservatives preached that the only legitimate laws were local ones.

    • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

      So, let me get this straight. You’re all for smaller government, but just not for the stuff you want government to get into, like a bathroom stall? And doesn’t this smack of the kind of “socialism” that “smaller government” claims to detest? You guys gotta make up your minds. It’s confusing. You need a Louie Gohmert-type of flow chart to keep up with all the outrage.

      • scottindallas

        how is gov’t regulating who pees where “small Gov’t” the local bill was to let restaurant owners decide themselves. You should be Quiet, you make no sense

        • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

          Whoosh. Right over your pointy little head.

      • Breiter Bart

        Are you being sincere, Linda?

        Refusing to answer a fair question, deleting it and banning the commenter? It’s good to be king, eh?

        • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

          That was the most sincere post I’ve ever written. Didn’t I ban you on Left Hand? Are you harassing me? Stupid move.

          • Breiter Bart

            You’re deluding yourself, Linda. Your reckless deletion of comments and ban without warning (nor answering my questions) is wrong. We actually agree about a lot of things.

            I’m not harassing you. Your ban left me with no other way to express my disappointment in your responsibilities as a mod. Mod’s shouldn’t throw insults, nor delete comments or ban someone without warning.

  • Real_American

    This kind of trash article is why we don’t read your trashy anti-American, anti-Texan values magazine. Just happened to see a mention of this junk today. If your readers want to be Kommiefornians, they need to move there.

    • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

      And yet, you read it…

      • Real_American

        My you are astute. Is that a pithy comment? All alone at home with only your cat and your computer Not….Linda? You have a great 2018 now. MAGA!

        • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

          Just making an observation about people who complain about TM and then read the articles, anyway, just to complain that they “won’t read TM anymore”. Until you read TM again.

          Stop beating your head against the wall. It only hurts you. The rest of us don’t care about your headache.

        • Not Gonna Be Quiet Linda

          And it is a dog I’m sitting with. Keep complaining. It shortens your life.

    • Art

      I think, therefore I am a Texan living in Hawaii.

      • Real_American

        Why would you want to live in such a place? Island fever is a real thing. Living under the thumb of oppressive government is noxious. So, why would you make such a statement?

  • Dennis Hanovich

    Perfect choice for #1. Such an asshole! He’s like a catfish…all mouth, no brains.

  • IndyTexan

    Patrick is the end result of one-party dictatorship at the state level (Repubs) and Dems at the municipal level. It’s time for independent voters to enter center stage…without a party.

  • Art

    What’s the diff. between Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott? Don’t know, you tell me.

    • scottindallas

      They’re both hypocrites and moral cripples, Abbott uses a wheelchair