Now that the elections are over the big question on everybody’s mind is – what now? What changes will we see coming in the state and what battles will be fought in the halls of the Texas Legislature? If Texas knows anything - it’s how to make legislative waves. In recent memory Texas gained national notoriety for a variety of topics ranging from its voter ID law to its much debated abortion restrictions. The latter catapulting Wendy Davis into this year’s gubernatorial run. The Texas Standard's David Brown sits down with political reporters Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American Statesman and Shelley Kofler at KERA to explore the future of Texas lawmaking.
“I think some issues that some considered, even in the Republican party, too conservative I think get a new breath of life,” Kofler says. With Dan Patrick filling the seat of Lt. Governor and the senate now being within one vote from the all-powerful supermajority, Kofler believes that Republicans will be able to push through changes to immigration and education in the state.
During his campaign for Lt. Governor, Patrick promised to repeal the DREAM act, a law that gives in-state tuition to undocumented students. Patrick also promised to push a school choice bill, that would give parents the ability to select which schools their children can attend. “He’s going to push forward with that. He’s already said that he would and he’s going to have additional votes in the Senate to give that some life,” Kofler says.
While Dan Patrick may lean harder to the right on those issues than Governor-elect Greg Abbott. And the new governor may be a moderating influence. “I’m not sure that he’s necessarily disposed to some of the hot button issues. I don’t think that’s where he want’s to go,” Tilove says.
Tilove believes that much could be learned from Abbott's handling of some of the more moderate Republicans in power, such as Joe Straus, who currently sits as Speaker of the House. “A big question is the signal that Abbott sends to the powers that be in both houses, whether he wants to maintain things as they are, or whether he’s open to a challenge to Straus – which I doubt he would be.”