Lt. Gov. Patrick Hints At Simple Majority Rules Change In Texas Senate

Barbara Schwarz
January 24, 2020 - 6:46 am
Texas Capitol Building

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AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Dan Patrick, who presides over the state senate told the audience at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's annual Policy Orientation in Austin that he may lower the threshold among senators to bring a bill to the floor from 60% to a simple majority. 

He's done this before. After assuming the office in 2015, Patrick lowered the long-standing two-thirds" rule of 21 votes to three fifths, or 19.  There are currently 19 Republican Texas senators and 12 Democrats.

SMU political scientist Cal Jillson says "that will be new and it will make the Texas senate much more like the Texas House and the US House, highly partisan and deeply divided."

Jillson says there's a chance Texas Democrats could flip a seat or two in the November election. He says the senate has prided itself in being a body that could discuss complicated issues behind the scenes if the rule changes again, "what that removes is the need for bi-partisan compromise before bills are brought to the floor.  That has been the principle distinguishing characteristic of the Texas senate, talking and compromise, and that will be lost."

Jillson says Patrick and his Republican colleagues should think about.  

"He used to control two thirds of the senate and now it's 60 percent.  He fears it might be less and could go to 50 percent or below.  If the Democrats become the majority in the Texas senate, several years down the road, six or eight years, they're going to be able to run the place on a simple majority and Republicans will be shut out.  So you have to be careful of what you wish for."