With only a few days left in the 85th legislative session, things are intense at the capitol. Here are a few highlights of what happened in the last week of session and what to be prepared for post session.
SB 2078 – Bathroom amendment
On Sunday, the House laid out their version of the so called “bathroom bill” as an amendment to SB 2078, a bill relating to emergency preparedness for school districts and open enrollment charter schools in Texas. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Paddie (R-Marshall) and applies to K-12 schools and singles out students who don’t want to use the restroom based on their biological sex and forces them to use separate facilities. This amendment is discriminatory and promotes a policy of “separate but equal” for transgender children in our schools. The Senate has rejected the language of the amendment stating that it does not go far enough and has requested a conference committee for negotiation. Saturday night at midnight is the deadline for the House to issue a conference committee report. If a report is not issued by the deadline, SB 2078 will die.
HB 3859 – Religious refusals in child welfare
Late Sunday night, the Senate passed HB 3859, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations, agencies, employees and foster parents that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBTQ families and others when making foster care and adoption decisions. The bill is now making its way to the Governor for final approval. If enacted, Texas would have one of the most broad-sweeping discriminatory child welfare religious refusal laws in the country.
On Tuesday night, the Senate took up HB 4180 by Rep. Coleman (D-Houston), a bill that relates to the regulation of Texas counties. This bill, considered a “Christmas Tree” because of the tendency of legislators to use the bill to attach bills that died during the session, was amended by Sen. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) to include SB 6 or the “bathroom bill” passed out of the Senate early this session. HB 4180 now heads back to the House where Rep. Coleman has indicated that it is “dead on arrival”.
Preparing for a special session
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference where he stated that he will be asking the Governor to call a special session on regulating bathroom use for transgender Texans. At the end of the day, it is at the sole discretion of Governor Abbott to make the decision whether or not to call a special session, and on what issues. A special session could be called as soon as early June. Regardless of what happens, the team at Equality Texas is prepared to take the fight into a special session and alert our membership of any developments.
ACTION ALERT: Call Governor Abbott at 512-463-2000 and tell him not to waste taxpayer money on a special session to take up a “bathroom bill”.
Our team is working hard every day in Austin to make sure we advance our agenda, and will continue to make sure that discrimination is not written into our laws. Together, we will send the message that discrimination is not a Texas value.