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Lege Week 15 Wrap-Up: It’s been a marathon
Posted on April 23, 2021 at 5:25 pm

It’s been a marathon the last few weeks for LGBTQ+ advocates at the Texas legislature. With over 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed, it’s hard to keep up with where all the bills are with some bills moving, others likely stalled out, and still more that we’re keeping an eye on just in case. In this week’s update we’ll give you a snapshot of where things stand with 38 days left until the end of the session.

But before that, a short wrap-up of the last week: Last Tuesday, the House Public Education committee heard HB 4042 (Hefner), a companion to SB 29 (Perry) which would categorically ban transgender youth access to sports. Opponents of the bill greatly outnumbered those for it, with parents and youth sharing incredibly powerful stories about what it’s like to be a transgender Texan in school today. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came out.

Yesterday the House approved the budget in a 12-hour long floor session. Six anti-LGBTQ+ amendments were pre-filed, including one by Representative Slaton that would recreate the bathroom bill of 2017 and prohibit any school employees or teachers from affirming transgender children. All six amendments to the budget were defeated. This is Representative Slaton’s fifth attempt at adding an anti-transgender amendment to a bill this session.

As of the writing of this email, no new hearings have been announced for next week which is a well-deserved break for all of our tireless advocates. 

 

Where things stand

At the beginning of session there were over 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed including six bills banning best-practice life-saving medical care for trans youth, six bills banning trans youth from participation in sports, seven bills that would endanger local nondiscrimination ordinances, seven bills that use religion as a license to discriminate, and eight uncategorized one-off attacks. 

Eleven of those bills have moved, including three healthcare bans, three sports bans, one bill that would endanger local nondiscrimination ordinances, two bills that use religion as a license to discriminate, and one other attack. The most pressing bills are the ones in the House Calendars committee, including HB 1399 (Krause), banning life-saving care for transgender youth. 

Call the House Calendars committee today and ask them not to schedule HB 1399 (Krause) for floor debate. 

 

We’re approaching key deadlines in the legislative session that will give us a clearer picture of what’s dead and what’s still moving. The last day House committees can vote on House bills is May 10, so the House only has two more weeks to hold a hearing if they want a bill to have a chance of moving forward. Three days later, on May 13, is the deadline for the House to pass any bills originating there. Basically, if a bill with the prefix HB doesn’t get voted out of the Chamber by May 13th then it’s dead. 

Of course any dead bill can be revived as an amendment and it’s not over until the official end of session on May 31st (Sine Die). We’ll keep you updated on every movement and how you can stand with us to defeat all 30 of the anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session

Until then, thank you for all that you’ve done, whether it’s a phone call, a sign-on to a pledge, showing up in person, or donating, every bit helps and we’re in this fight together. This work is hard, but our community is strong. Thank you.

 

Priority Bills and How Far They’ve Moved

 

Bills banning best practice healthcare for transgender youth

Bills that have moved: 

  • HB 1399 (Krause) – This bill is the top threat to best-practice affirming medical care for transgender youth in Texas. It would prohibit doctors from providing care and limit liability insurance. This bill does not have a companion. HB 1399 (Krause) is currently in the House Calendars committee and could be scheduled for the House floor. Call the Calendars committee now.
  • SB 1646 (Perry) – This bill adds the administering or supplying of life-saving transition-related health care, as directed by medical or mental health professionals, to the statutorial definition of “child abuse,” including related penalties. SB 1646 (Perry) has passed the Senate committee and is on the Senate Intent Calendar, which means it’s eligible to be debated by the Senate floor. The bill’s companion, HB 4014 (Hefner), has not gotten a hearing and is in the House Public Health Committee. 
  • The other healthcare bans, SB 1311 (Hall), HB 68 (Toth), and HB 2693 (Hefner) have not moved out of committee, but we’re keeping a close eye on them.

 

Bills banning transgender youth from participation in sports

Bills that have moved:

  • SB 29 (Perry) – This bill is the top threat to trans youth being able to participate in sports with their peers. SB 29 (Perry) passed the full Senate on party lines and has been referred to House Public Education. Its companion, HB 4042 (Hefner), was heard last week in House Public Education and is pending in committee.
  • The other sports bans, SB 373 (Perry), HB 1458 (Swanson), HB 3455 (White) and HB 4043 (Hefner) have not moved out of committee, but we’re keeping a close eye on them.

 

Bills endangering local nondiscrimination ordinances

  • HB 610 (Swanson) – This bill would endanger any local ordinance that goes beyond requirements in state law, including nondiscrimination ordinances. HB 610 (Swanson) is currently in the House Calendars Committee and could be scheduled for debate on the House floor. 

 

Bills using religion as a license to discriminate 

  • SB 247 (Perry) – This bill allows anyone licensed under the state bar of Texas to refuse service without losing their license to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. SB 247 (Perry) has passed the Senate and its companion, HB 3940 (Cain) is currently in the House Calendars Committee and could be scheduled for debate on the floor. If HB 3940 (Cain) passes the House, these bills can meet in the middle and be ready for the Governor’s desk.
  • HB 1424 (Oliverson) – This bill allows any medical professional to object to any medical procedure that violates their “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs” even if the procedure in question is live-saving care. This bill had a hearing two weeks ago in House Public Health and is currently pending in the committee. 

 

A few helpful definitions to help decode the bill movement:

  • Because of the makeup of the legislature, our best bet to stop anti-LGBTQ+ bills is in the House. This means that House bills are higher priority, especially if they have Senate companion bills.
  • Companion bills — these bills don’t have to get a hearing in the opposite chamber. If both chambers work on them simultaneously — hold hearings, vote them out of committee and then vote them out of the chamber — the bill goes to the Governor’s desk. If a bill doesn’t have a companion, or the companion hasn’t moved, the bill will have to go through the committee process in the opposite chamber and there will be another chance for official public testimony.
  • Calendars Committee — this is a committee in the House which determines if and when bills are scheduled for full floor debate on the House floor. Many bills die in Calendars if they’re not scheduled in time for deadlines.
  • Pending in Committee — this means that a bill has gotten a hearing but the Chair has not called for a vote. 
  • Sine Die — indefinite meeting adjourned of the Texas Legislature