CSHB 2899 – Simmons – relating to the regulation of discrimination by political subdivisions

The committee substitute for HB 2899 would strip away the ability of cities, schools, and other local entities to pass or enforce nondiscrimination protections in multiple-occupancy bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities, for attributes other than those covered under state or federal law. It, therefore, applies to all categories of discrimination protection left unmentioned, including existing or future protection from discrimination on the basis of military status, familial status, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It would also nullify all non-discrimination ordinances that provide those protections.

The committee hearing in House State Affairs will not be like the SB 6 hearing in the Senate. The outcome in Senate State Affairs was a forgone conclusion; that is not the case with House State Affairs. People can expect to be treated respectfully by the committee, and everyone should be respectful of the committee members. They are interested in hearing real stories of discrimination. Be specific. Share stories of how CSHB 2899 would affect your life.

Read the proposed Committee Substitute to HB2899 here.

Facts:

    • Veteran status is not a protected attribute under federal or state law, but ordinances in San Antonio and Plano protect our veterans from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
    • This legislation strips protections that some Texas cities have had for LGBTQ people for more than a decade: Dallas since 2002, Austin since 2004, and Fort Worth since 2000.
    • Voters in Dallas approved a charter amendment that included protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and veteran status in 2014 by a vote of 76% to 24%. HB 2899 would override the will of those voters.

How to talk about this

  • Rep. Simmons and some House lawmakers are framing HB 2899 as a watered-down version of SB 6, but make no mistake: this bill is just as discriminatory and just as dangerous to our economy.
  • HB 2899 effectively nullifies existing protection from discrimination in bathrooms, showers, and other changing facilities in several Texas cities and school districts. These include cities that have had protections in place for more than a decade – Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin.
  • HB 2899 forbids any Texas cities, counties, and school districts from protecting people in the future from discrimination in bathrooms, showers, and other changing facilities.
  • HB 2899 is one-sided in its prohibition. Under the proposal, only the protection of “a class of persons from discrimination” is forbidden. But cities and schools may choose to permit or even mandate discrimination against “a class of persons” in bathrooms, showers, and other changing facilities.
  • HB 2899 codifies discrimination in Texas law by forbidding enforcement of policies and ordinances that “protect a class of persons from discrimination.” The result is an unprecedented form of exclusion from legal protection.
  • HB 2899 may complicate the enforceability of existing local anti-discrimination ordinances beyond the context of bathrooms and changing facilities since courts may hold that those ordinances are non-severable (i.e. they either stand or fall as a whole, rather than in parts). These protections are valued as methods to attract economic development and talent, and by school districts that have policies in place as a way to have clarity on how to protect all children.
  • HB 2899 will have the same economic consequences as SB 6, while still failing to protect anyone from anything.
  • HB 2899 is a solution in search of a problem, just like SB 6. Worse, this bill is a step backwards and will strip many transgender Texans of existing protections – because the legislation bans municipalities from setting their own nondiscrimination protections in places like restrooms.
  • Our veterans deserve the respect and dignity of being able to work, live and go out in public without harassment or discrimination. If the state legislature is unwilling to protect the people who’ve risked everything for our freedoms, the least they can do is continue to allow cities to protect our heroes.

Other links:

FAQs for the committee hearing.

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