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

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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.

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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.



Police today urged householders to tell them when they’re on holiday — so officers can help keep an eye on their house

Story image for Door & Windows from NDTV

Ahead of the start of the trades fortnight, community officers are leading a crackdown on break-ins during the summer months — when those types of crimes peak.

PC Andy Caulfield, based at Longhaugh Police Station, is one of those heading up the campaign to halt the crooks.

And he says one option open to people who are heading off on holiday is to alert police to their absence.

He told the Tele: “Come into your local police station and let us know you’re away.

“We can include it in our patrol matrix and give it passing attention.

“And if you have a burglar alarm, please use it.

“Set it, and notify us of who you have left a key with in case it goes off in error and we need to gain access.

“We’re just trying to remind people to take those extra 30 seconds to make sure everything is secure before you leave and that way you are less at risk of being a victim of crime.

“The impact on people that have been a victim of a theft or a break-in is long-lasting.

“It stays with you forever.”

PC Caulfield says officers have dealt with “numerous” break-ins in recent weeks, with thieves looking for tell-tale signs that homes have been left unsecured.

He said: “There is more of an opportunity for thieves to take advantage of the good weather.

“People will unconsciously leave their possessions lying out in the open or leave doors or windows open – that increases the risk.

“Recently, some people had a bit of work done to the rear of their property.

“They left ground-floor windows open to the rear to air out fumes.

“They went out shopping, came back, and someone had been in through the window and gained access to the whole property.

“I believe it was an opportunist who made off with a laptop and iPod.”

Thieves tend to aim for items which are easy to conceal or carry in a bag that can be moved on quickly.

“They can be away without the neighbours seeing anything,” PC Caulfield said.

“It’s the idea that someone outwith your friends and family has been in your place of residence, your place of comfort, and that place can suddenly feel quite vulnerable.

“By simply locking windows and doors if you’re popping out, or nipping next door, you can make sure your property is properly secured.

“You can always open doors and windows later on for fresh air.”

Even windows on upper floors aren’t always safe from the crooks, with a recent reported case involving a criminal using a ladder from the side of a house to climb in through a first-floor window.

And even someone’s Facebook profile can leave an opportunity for someone to target a house.

PC Caulfield said: “If you state on social media that you’re going out, you’ve advertised that you won’t be in,” he said, “so make sure your home is secured.”


Small but beautiful


Spencer Viner is a garden designer and landscape architect with a fascination for Japanese gardens. His small, square garden is his outside room and a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of North London. However, when he arrived 10 years ago, he inherited rough grass and uninspiring grey concrete paving in equal measures. The plot also had modern garden fencing on three sides, leaving it feeling bare and exposed.

An interest in Japanese gardens, meditation and yoga led him to create an Oriental garden with a thoroughly modern twist. “I didn’t want a cliched Japanese garden, with red bridges and rocks and gravel,” he reveals.

“I wanted to create an urban space, but I also wanted to be experimental and playful because it’s my home.” The first job was to cover the mundane garden fences with marine plywood to create a smooth finish. “It’s painted black, so it’s quite dramatic,” he says. “It gives a feeling of more space, which is counterintuitive because the planting disappears into the shadows, blurring the boundaries.”

It’s also a perfect backdrop for rich-green foliage, and “has definitely deepened the mood of the garden”. Pleached limes were planted in front of the 1.5m (5ft)high fence, all along the perimeter. “The pleached effect looks great through every season and it echoes old horticultural practices,” Spencer says.

A pergola was also added for privacy along with simple seating and dining areas. Spencer’s passion for upcycling materials such as oil drums and water tanks, the rustier the better, helped him furnish the garden cheaply. One of his Japanese maples sits in a rusty oil drum and he also uses Corten steel, a mixture of alloys designed to develop a rusty surface, throughout the garden. The pillars on the pergola have had welding mesh, which has now rusted, wrapped round them which setoff climbing plants such as Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’. The mesh circle allows climbers to expand and grow, such as the double, plum-coloured Viticella clematis, ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’. The dusky flowers pick up the purple house wall, which has a white disc on it representing the full moon. The opposite wall has a corten steel disc symbolising the sun. Broken terracotta pots top the woody plants’ soil surface as a mulch. It is details like this that give the garden year-round interest. Grateful clients give him unwanted items, too, and the Balinese pillar and oak and flint dining table were both presents. The old, putty-coloured, oak table and upright flints, once used for stretching home-spun yarn, provides texture and form, while the bold metal base of the table, consisting of semi-circular rusty hoops, is architectural and modern. It’s topped by a leaden, gourd-shaped pot Spencer spotted at a local garden centre. The Japanese water feature, which looks so authentic with its lizard motif, is made from concrete pipes. These had to be rolled through the house andthen placed one on top of the other, an idea borrowed from garden designer Stephen Woodhams. There are four of these circular structures, all capped in slate tiles, and they help to soften the grid-like design of this small London garden.



[Source:- gardennewsmagazine]