Texas SB 6 “Bathroom Bill” is derailed, but Republicans may try again with HB 2899

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As of midnight last night the Texas House had to decide what bills would move on to be considered to become law. Just as in the National Freedom Caucus the Texas Freedom Caucus was in full fight mode to stop hundreds of bills being approved to move on with the blocking of their abortion legislation. It seems now there is a major battle going on between those who follow the lead of Texas Speaker of the House Joe Strauss and those in the Texas Freedom Caucus.

This morning the Texas House’s self-named Freedom Caucus killed more than 100 measures in retaliation for what they described as “petty, personal politics” overflowing in the chamber. In a major blow to public health experts and advocates, the caucus’ 12 members used a parliamentary maneuver to kill the entire “Local, Consent, and Resolutions Calendar”. The targeted bills were on the local and consent calendar, which fast tracks legislation not expected to generate much debate. If five or more lawmakers object to a bill on that calendar, it must be considered in the regular legislative process.

This was done after bills from six conservative lawmakers were removed from the local and consent calendar which effectively kills them because the House faced a deadline to pass bills on the general calendar Thursday at midnight. State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, called the move “another direct shot at the conservative lawmakers of this House. It’s been personal attacks, personal retributions, petty personal politics. And this caucus has had enough of it,” Leach said (link).

This is the same infighting that is occurring with the healthcare bill AHCA in Washington D.C. between House and Senate Republicans and the Freedom Caucus. Now that we have come to Friday, May 12th the end is near. Today the bills voted on last night in the House to move forward must pass a final vote by midnight to stay alive.

So with the 85th session of the Texas Legislature ending on May 29th, Memorial Day, time is short. SB 6, the Senate’s bathroom bill is basically dead. It was never put on the House calendar. HB 2899 was never voted out of committee and though it appears dead there is still one chance that it could be added to another bill that passed the House last night as an amendment. HB 2899 would have needed to clear the State Affairs Committee on Monday to even have a chance to get onto the House calendar. But the House adjourned on Monday.

The proposal, by Republican state Rep. Ron Simmons- Carrollton, would have blocked political subdivisions, including school districts, from enacting or enforcing policies to protect a class of persons if those aren’t already protected by federal or state law. This would apply to bathrooms, showers or changing facilities. HB 2899 would have nullified parts of nondiscrimination ordinances in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, El Paso and Austin to protect certain classes of persons, including transgender residents, from discrimination in public accommodations. Those protections are meant to allow them to use public bathrooms that match their gender identities. HB 2899 would have voided all protections already in place and been a permanent obstacle to future ordinances.

Simmons on Monday afternoon wasn’t giving up on the issue, indicating he could bring back the bill’s language and piggyback it on to another piece of legislation. “I still am confident we will have an amendment opportunity,” he said. But similar efforts in the House to attach language from the Senate’s bathroom proposal onto other legislation have been unsuccessful so far.

So things are looking good for the LGBTQ community in Texas in their battle to keep bathrooms, changing rooms and lockers safe for the transgender community.

We still must remain vigilant in calling, e-mailing and writing Texas senators and congressman regarding SB 6 and HB 2899 until we know these bills have been defeated. Also be sure to contact Texas politicians on one of the most dangerous bills HB 3859, which I wrote on earlier this week which would allow religious discrimination in child welfare and adoptive services involving state funding in Texas (link). This was referred to the Health and Human Services committee in the Texas Senate on May 11th. The Texas Senate has until May 24th to pass this bill so it is still most likely that this discriminatory bill will be passed and then sent on to Governor Abbott’s desk to sign. This would not only affect adoptions by LGBTQ parents but also would allow religious exemption discrimination against single parents and Muslims, Jews and other religions that Christian organizations feel are not in line with their views.

In an update e-mail I just received from Equality Texas it states: On Wednesday, the House voted out HB 3859, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations, agencies, employees and foster parents that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBTQ families and others when making foster care and adoption decisions. HB 3895 is now in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, which could take action as soon as next Monday. TAKE ACTION NOW: Send a message to Sen Charles Schwertner and tell them to OPPOSE HB 3859

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