Checking Dan Patrick's talking points after 2017 regular session
As the 2017 regular Texas legislative session closed and for days afterward, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick granted a flurry of interviews, hammering several points behind his thesis that while the Republican-controlled Senate that he helms did a fine job, the House, steered by Speaker Joe Straus, fumbled on several fronts.
We won't judge Patrick's opinions. But here's a closer look at five of Patrick's factual claims:
--Patrick, asked why the pending Texas law targeting communities that protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation was "even necessary," told Bill Hemmer of Fox News on May 31 that in Texas alone, "we arrested over 210,000 criminal aliens from 2011 until the beginning of this year. We charged them with over one half million crimes, Bill, over 1,000 murders, 6,000 sexual assaults, 67,000 drug crimes, hundreds of kidnappings. These are real crimes committed by people here illegally. Of those criminal aliens, almost two thirds were here illegally. So Bill, sanctuary cities do not make us safer. It’s real crime connected to people who are here illegally."
Asked the origin of those figures, a Patrick spokesman, Alejandro Garcia, pointed us to counts posted online by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Headlined "Texas Criminal Alien Arrest Data," the undated text says that from June 2011 through May 2017--a slightly different time period than Patrick specified--over 222,000 criminal aliens were booked into Texas jails, according to Department of Homeland Security "status indicators."
Also toted up: Past criminal charges leveled against all those individuals and, the text says, 66 percent of the arrested people were identified by DHS at their time of their latest arrest as living in the country without legal authorization. Moreover, according to the DPS, the arrested residents together account for 496 homicide convictions; 26,565 assault convictions; 8,411 burglary convictions; 34,929 drug convictions; 246 kidnapping convictions; 18,851 theft convictions; 22,644 obstructing police convictions; 2,011 robbery convictions; 2,906 sexual assault convictions; and 3,707 weapons convictions--all without considering criminal charges in other states.
--Patrick, appearing on the May 30 edition of the Capital Tonight program hosted by Karina Kling of Spectrum Cable, charged the Texas House led by Straus with killing several of his priority measures including respective proposals authorizing state aid for children to attend nonpublic schools, giving voters tighter sway over local tax rates and restricting bathroom choices in schools and other government buildings. "The House just kind-of lost control there at the end," he said.
Catching our ear, Patrick specified: "They killed freezing college tuition for two years."
Our sense is Patrick was referring to the House not acting on the Senate-approved Senate Bill 19, which would have frozen tuition and fees for two years at public universities and sharply restricted future increases, according to a May 31, 2017 Austin American-Statesman news story.
Legislative records show the House fielded the legislation from the Senate April 5, 2017 and it was referred nearly a month later, May 1, 2017, to the House Committee on Higher Education, which held a hearing on the proposal May 17, 2017 without taking further action.
--In an interview with Jason Whitely of WFAA-TV for the June 4 edition of the Texas Politics program, Patrick said the House-advanced version of bathroom privacy legislation had nothing to it. Patrick said of the House’s action on bathroom privacy: "They passed a nothing bill, as you know. The Dallas Morning News said it does nothing. And that’s why it was not acceptable."
A May 22, 2017, news story in the Dallas daily newspaper quoted representatives of school groups saying that under the House version of privacy legislation, "transgender public school students will not be barred from restrooms that match their gender identity."
The story said: "Senate Bill 2078 would require schools to provide a private bathroom for public school students who do not want to use the multi-occupancy restroom that matches the biological sex on their birth certificates. But the bill would not require transgender kids to use that single-stall bathroom if they don't want to, two education groups and multiple lawmakers familiar with the legislation told The News."
The story by reporter Lauren McGaughy went on to say the legislation, which ultimately died, "does not prohibit transgender students from using the public, multi-use bathrooms that match their gender identity. In short, while the measure was billed as a provision to restrict bathroom use for transgender students, it seems to do nothing of the sort."
--Patrick told Phil Anaya of San Antonio’s KENS, Channel 5, that after North Carolina lawmakers advanced its proposal into law restricting local governments from giving transgender residents access to bathrooms of choice, there was no economic downturn in that state "at all."
This March, PolitiFact North Carolina rated True a claim that the state’s bathroom law, House Bill 2, had cost the state one-tenth of 1 percent of its annual GDP. An estimated $500 million in economic losses (not to mention at least 1,400 jobs lost) wasn’t insignificant, but the state’s overall economy was large enough that the losses accounted for just 0.1 percent of the state’s GDP.
--Patrick told Steve Spriester of KSAT-TV, also in San Antonio, that despite his decision to initiative numerous post-session TV interviews, he’s not gearing up to primary a fellow Republican, Gov. Greg Abbott, in 2018. Patrick said May 31: "I’m the most media-accessible person in the state. I don’t mind answering tough questions. I don’t mind doing interviews." He added: "It has nothing to do with running for any other office" than lieutenant governor.
On Jan. 9, 2017, just before the legislative session began, Patrick held a press conference and said that he’d seek a second term as lieutenant governor in 2018 and he was endorsing Abbott for his own second term. "Put it in cement," Patrick said at Republican Party of Texas headquarters in Austin. "I’m not — in 2018 and never — running against Greg Abbott for governor."