Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session

Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.
Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.

 Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors.

Despite it serving, in part, as the reason lawmakers are back in Austin for legislative overtime, the Texas Legislature could very well gavel out next week without passing a “bathroom bill.”

With just days left in the 30-day special legislative session, controversial proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans appear to have no clear path to the governor’s desk. As was the case during the regular legislative session that concluded in May, efforts to pass any sort of bathroom bill — a divisive issue pitting Republicans against business leaders, LGBT advocates, law enforcement and even fellow Republicans — have stalled in the Texas House.

And it’s unlikely that will change in the coming days.

“I’d say the chances are definitely getting smaller,” Republican state Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton, who filed two bathroom bills during the special session, said earlier this week.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The push to keep transgender Texans out of bathrooms that match their gender identity — a move opponents said was discriminatory and could endanger transgender individuals — largely dominated the regular legislative session between protests, lobbying days, two overnight hearings, legislative bickering among Republican leaders over proposed bathroom bills and, eventually, a forced special session.

Restricting bathroom use in public facilities was deemed a legislative priority by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But House Speaker Joe Straus, with the increased backing of the business community, emerged as his most prominent foil on the issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott — who for months during the regular session was reticent to voice his support for a bathroom bill — eventually took the lieutenant governor’s side and added the issue to his 20-item agenda for a special session that Patrick forced him to call by holding hostage legislation needed to keep open the doors at a handful of state agencies.

But amid concerns for the safety of an already vulnerable population and statewide economic fallout, those efforts did little to sway the speaker.

When lawmakers returned to Austin in July, the Senate quickly passed its latest version of the bill to regulate bathroom use in public schools and local government buildings based on the gender listed on a birth certificate or Texas ID. It would also nix parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to ensure transgender Texans can use public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Just like during the regular session, Straus has refused to refer that bill to a House committee — the first step in the legislative process.

[Source”cnbc”]

Dallas Stars 1st Pro Team to Publicly Oppose Texas’ ‘Bathroom Bill’

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  President, CEO and Alternate Governor Jim Lites of the Dallas Stars speaks on the draft floor during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars publicly opposed the Texas “bathroom bill” Wednesday that would require transgender people in Texas to only use bathrooms in schools or government buildings based on their birth-certificate gender.

“The Dallas Stars stands strongly opposed to any legislation perceived as discriminatory, including proposed bathroom legislation,” team president Jim Lites said, per Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News. “Dallas welcomes all, and we welcome all.”

His statement made the Stars the first team to publicly denounce this particular legislation about bathroom use for transgender people. All of the city’s major sports teams appear to be against the legislation, however, per McGaughy:

“While Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has criticized the bill, Lites is the first club president to reject legislation on behalf of an entire team. Sources have told The Dallas Morning News the Dallas Cowboys have been quietly lobbying against the bills, but the team has not yet publicly rejected it.”

“Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also spoken out on the bill, saying he doesn’t believe the legislation has hurt Texas business prospects yet, but, ‘We can only use the excuse of having crazy, entertaining state politicians who are merely a sideshow for so long.'”

A similar law in North Carolina was met with stiff resistance and outcry from the sporting world. The NBA pulled its All-Star Game from the state, while the NCAA pulled basketball tournament games from the state as well before the law was repealed.

Both the NBA and NFL have warned the state of Texas, meanwhile, that passing what is seen by many as a discriminatory law against transgender people could cost the state major events in the future.

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law (in Texas), that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Ileana Najarro of the Houston Chronicle in February.

“We consider a wide range of factors when making decisions about host locations for league-wide events like the All-Star Game—foremost among them is ensuring the environment where those who participate and attend are treated fairly and equally,” NBA spokesman Bass added that same month, per Najarro.

[Source”cnbc”]

Texas Senate readies to pass bathroom bill and others by end of week

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presides over the Texas Senate on the second day of a special session ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, in Austin, Texas, Wednesday, July 19, 2017.Click through our gallery that details some of the things you should know about the 'bathroom bill'... Photo: Eric Gay, STF / The Advocate

An early morning start had the Texas Senate on track to pass out all 20 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priority items by the end of the second week of the session.

After a rare midnight session Thursday and a weekend of around the clock committee meetings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had dozens of bills primed to be heard on the Senate floor over the next three days starting at 9 a.m. Monday. That includes bills dealing with highly controversial issues like abortion, transgender bathroom policies, school vouchers and tree ordinances.

DEBATE: 10 hours of public testimony in Austin over ‘Bathroom Bill’

But while the Senate plows through the agenda with Patrick’s promise to pass all of them by week’s end, the prospects of each in the House remains in doubt. House Speaker Joe Straus and the House met for less than 2 hours all of last week and have yet to pass out the one bill considered must pass — a bill reauthorizing the Texas Medical Board and four other agencies. That bill cleared the Senate early Thursday morning.

Though “bathroom bills” targeting transgender people fizzled in deep-red states across the U.S., the issue continues to be white hot in Texas. The Legislature is heading into special session prepared to revive it, and conservative groups are vowing revenge on Republican lawmakers who don’t approve it.

Media: WochIt Media

The Legislature’s regular session ended in May, but Abbott forced lawmakers back into a 30-day special session to restore the Texas Medical Board and the other boards. But he said last week that if he was going to call the lawmakers back, he was going to make it count.

OPPOSITION: Turner tells lawmakers ‘bathroom bill’ tries to solve non-existent problem

That has meant adding 19 other items to the special session call that are mostly celebrated by conservative groups, such as the bathroom bill, which would bar schools and local governments from enacting transgender bathroom policies and instead give the state full authority to set the rules. On Friday, a Senate committee overwhelming passed a bill that would require all people to use the bathroom of the sex that is listed on their birth certificates.

That legislation and other controversial items had hundreds of people filling the Texas Capitol over the last seven days, mostly in protest against the conservative agenda that Abbott has lined out.

[Source”pcworld”]