The legislative team at Equality Texas has been hard at work this week! Here are a few highlights of what happened this week at the Texas Capitol and an urgent request for immediate action.
HB 3859 – Discrimination in Child Welfare
HB 3859 was scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Saturday, May 7th. HB 3859 is 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 vote on HB 3859 was postponed to Monday, May 8th. If HB 3859 is enacted, Texas will have the broadest, most discriminatory child welfare religious refusal act in the country. HB 3859 is not only discriminatory to qualified prospective foster and adoptive parents, it puts thousands of youth in care in jeopardy.
We urgently need your help to stop HB 3859. TAKE ACTION NOW to OPPOSE HB 3859. You can also text HB3859 to 30644 to be connected directly to your State Rep’s office.
HB 192, HB 225, HB 290 – Nondiscrimination Protections
Last Monday, the House Committee on Business and Industry held a hearing on HB 225 and HB 290 by Rep. Eric Johnson. HB 225 would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. HB 290 is an “equal pay for equal work” bill that would prohibit sex discrimination in compensation. HB 192 by Rep. Bernal relating to housing discrimination was heard in committee a few weeks ago. In an unprecedented vote by the committee, all three nondiscrimination bills were voted out favorably and are now on their way to the Calendars Committee.
Nursing and Pharmacy Sunset Amendments
On Monday and Tuesday, the House heard bills relating to the regulation of Nursing and Pharmacy. Several amendments were filled by Representatives Tinderholt and Krause relating to the prohibition of gender reassignment surgery for children under the age of 13 and the expansion of religious accommodations for nursing and pharmaceutical occupational licenses. These amendments were either withdrawn or neutralized with language consistent with Texas’ existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) .
On Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on HB 1813 by Rep. Flynn. HB 1813 is a religious refusal bill that would allow county clerks and other public officials and employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses if doing so violates a “sincerely held religious belief”. The bill was left pending in committee. The Senate companion SB 522 was passed out of the Senate in April.
SB 2095 by Sen. Bob Hall will be eligible for a floor vote in the Senate on Tuesday. SB 2095 would allow Texas’ University Interscholastic League (UIL) to disqualify a student taking hormones from competing in student athletics– even if that student is only taking them because they are transgender. We believe that this bill is a direct response to Mack Beggs, a transgender male wrestler who was recently forced to compete against female athletes. Texas’ University Interscholastic League (UIL) policy defines high school athletic gender divisions according to the gender on birth certificates, which has no basis in scientific reality.
Send a message today to your State Senator and tell them to oppose SB 2095, and instead promote fair UIL policies that would allow transgender athletes to compete in contests that match their gender identity.
Thursday at midnight is a key deadline in the Texas House. Any House bill that has not been voted out by the House will be ineligible for any further action. This means that all House bills will be considered dead if they do not receive a vote by the midnight Thursday deadline.
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.