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.

[Source”cnbc”]

North Texas lawmakers will introduce two bathroom bills in special session

The Texas bathroom bill has been arguably the most controversial bill introduced during Texas' 2017 Legislative Session, drawing reaction from protesters, politicians, business leaders and celebrities.  Keep going to see what you need to know about previous versions of the proposed law.  Photo: Sara D. Davis, Stringer / 2016 Getty Images

AUSTIN — After a brief respite, the bathroom wars are heating up again.

Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, is expected to introduce two bills in the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature that would regulate which public bathrooms transgender Texans, including schoolchildren, can use.

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The first bill, which will closely resemble his bill that failed during the regular session, will be a broad attempt to prohibit cities, counties and public school districts from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances involving multi-occupancy restrooms or locker rooms.

It is expected to allow exceptions for people already protected under state and federal anti-discrimination laws, which do not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Simmons’ bill would effectively invalidate local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender people to use public restrooms that match their gender identity, as well as school district policies that make accommodations for transgender students.

The path for Texas to enact its version of a North Carolina-style bathroom bill is poised to get far tougher as the Republican-controlled state House closes in on a key midnight Thursday deadline to approve legislation.

Media: WochIt Media

That proposal, House Bill 2899, had 79 co-sponsors, all Republicans, before lawmakers left Austin in late May. A bill needs to win a simple majority, or 76 votes, on the House floor to pass.

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A second proposal Simmons plans to introduce would apply only to public school districts.

Simmons’s intentions were first reported by The Dallas Morning News, and he did not respond to the Houston Chronicle’s request for comment.

This month, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special session to begin July 18, calling lawmakers back to Austin for at least one month to tackle 20 items he said were not addressed to his satisfaction during the 140-day regular legislative session, which ended in May. Reauthorizing the Texas Medical Board and a handful of other agencies, which could close if lawmakers do not approve their continuation, topped Abbott’s list.

He also listed “privacy” as one of the topics, saying that “at a minimum” he wants a bill that applies to the use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools. In the regular session, Abbott praised Simmons’ bill

[Source”pcworld”]