Once upon a time, the Texas economy was ranked second in the nation and touted as the “Texas Miracle.” Not that long ago, the Texas Senate was also highly regarded as a place where serious politicians deliberated matters of great consequence to Texans. Unfortunately, in the words of immortal Bob Dylan it appears “the times they are a changin’.”
According to Governing Magazine, the Texas economy has dropped to 21st in the nation based on analysis of state unemployment rates, per capita GDPs, per capita personal income and job growth. Texas continues to rank in the bottom 10 states for education spending per student and according to the Texas Medical Association was the “uninsured capital of the United States with more than 4.3 million Texans including 623,000 children” unable to access health insurance coverage in 2015.
Maybe it is coincidence, but since Dan Patrick’s promotion from talk radio host to state Senator and ultimately to Lt. Governor in November 2014, the reputation of the Texas Senate has plummeted even faster than the state economy. The current legislative session exemplifies Patrick’s radical conservative extremist takeover of the Senate.
In the grand tradition of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, Texas State Senators while away the time passing bathroom bills, banning imaginary sanctuary cities and ensuring that local municipalities don’t outlaw the use of plastic bags while the economy, public education, infrastructure and uninsured children are ignored.
Patrick and his radical conservative extremists have made the “bathroom bill” the focus and symbol of this legislative session even though it won’t be passed by the House of Representatives, which is now where the grown-ups in the Texas legislature live.
The bill is strongly opposed by economic interests including the Texas Association of Business, the NFL and numerous potential employers including Amazon and American Airlines. The bill does absolutely nothing to increase safety for women or children, but is clearly calculated as a spring board for Patrick’s future political aspirations.
Patrick’s pet bill sponsor Lois Kolkhorst claims the bill is “really not about the transgender. It is about other people that will abuse that.” Kolkhorst and other proponents continue to justify this meaningless legislation as a mechanism to protect women and children from creepy predators. However, everyone knows, Texas has strong criminal laws to punish sexual predators who try to enter bathrooms to commit crimes and there is still zero evidence that any transgender person has ever entered any Texas bathroom and committed any crime against any woman or child.
The bottom line is the bathroom bill does absolutely nothing to make the life of any Texan better. In fact, if it becomes law it will cost Texas jobs, money and reputation. It will however make Patrick more popular with the radical right wing base he needs to win future elections, which of course explains why the bathroom bill and not legislation to increase jobs, improve public education, rebuild infrastructure or provide health insurance for Texas children was one of Patrick’s “top” legislative priorities.