Saying that now is “not a time for politics” in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was the featured speaker at the Brown County Republican Women monthly meeting on Friday.
Patrick primarily discussed hurricane relief efforts during the early-morning meeting at the Depot Civic & Cultural Center. The event, originally scheduled for later in the morning, was pushed up so that Patrick could attend a meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott on the Texas coast later that day.
Patrick praised the federal government’s response to Harvey during his remarks. “The president has been on top of this, really, since before the storm hit,” he said. “He’s a business guy, and he looks at this, really, as he would if one of his businesses had been hit by a storm. What do we have to do to get back open for business?”
Patrick ran through numbers that illustrate the staggering scope of the Harvey disaster: 400 to 600,000 people displaced from their homes, 200 to 300,000 damaged homes, 20 to 25,000 rescues and about 70 deaths. “We’ll come out of this stronger and we’ll come out of it better, but it’s going to take time,” Patrick said.
He called on state and federal officials to invest in disaster preparedness to mitigate the impact of future severe weather. “It’s now time to make the investments that should have been made decades ago,” he said. “We need more reservoirs around our state. We need simple things like flood gauges so people can see the water level. We’re going to need … this investment in our state, because it impacts our economy.”
Patrick then spoke briefly about the regular and special legislative sessions that occurred earlier this year, praising Brownwood’s elected officials Rep. Mike Lang and Sen. Dawn Buckingham. A noted social and fiscal conservative, Patrick presides over a Senate he called “the most conservative legislative body in the country.”
Lang, who attended the meeting, offered support and condolences to Harvey’s victims after the event and said that he’s been traveling around District 60 getting feedback since the special session ended in mid-August. Lang said the topics he hears the most about are dissatisfaction with House Speaker Joe Straus, the failed property tax reform bill and the stalled “bathroom bill.”
“It’s great to be back in the district,” Lang said. “It’s good to tell everybody what happened in the session, but taxpayers want more. Some of these issues will be brought back up next session.”
At the beginning of his speech, Patrick recognized Brown County Republican Women member Stacy Odom for her volunteer work for the Trump campaign last year. Patrick said Odom made more than 2,500 calls on Trump’s behalf. He presented her with yellow roses and a rare commemorative blanket with Trump’s name and the presidential seal.
Patrick has served as lieutenant governor since January 2015 after years in the Texas Senate and earlier careers as a businessman and conservative talk radio host. He is from Houston.