Bills

Texas ‘bathroom’ bills appear doomed in special legislative session



FILE PHOTO: A gender neutral bathroom is seen at the
University of California, Irvine

Thomson Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas measures to restrict access for
transgender people to bathrooms in schools and public buildings
appear doomed this week after hundreds of businesses stood in
opposition and moderate Republican powerbrokers blocked the
bills.

The so-called bathroom bills have caused rifts among Republicans
who control the state’s legislature, leaving no likely path to
passage before a 30-day special session wraps on Wednesday,
analysts and lawmakers said.

“The bathroom bill in this session is dead and buried with dirt
over its coffin,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor
at Rice University in Houston.

Enactment in Texas, the most populous Republican-dominated state,
could give momentum to other socially conservative states for
additional action on an issue that has become a flashpoint in the
U.S. culture wars.

But House Speaker Joe Straus, a pro-business Republican who
controls the agenda in the body, has shown little interest in
passing a bathroom bill, which he said was not a priority.

His position was buffeted by a well-financed campaign from major
corporations including Texas-based energy companies Halliburton
and ExxonMobil Global Services , which have said the bills were
discriminatory and would make it hard for them to recruit top
talent.

Supporters of the legislation, who say it can help protect women
and children from sexual assaults, have not given up.

But they acknowledge there is only a slim chance of success, with
lawmakers still trying to reach deals on almost all of the 20
priority items set by Republican Governor Greg Abbott for the
session.

Senate Bill 3, which made it through the Senate and stalled in
the House, requires people to use restrooms, showers and locker
rooms in public schools and other state and local government
facilities that match the sex on their birth certificate, as
opposed to their gender identity.

A push for bathroom bills nationally sputtered after North
Carolina partially repealed such a measure in March after
boycotts by athletic organizations and businesses that have cost
the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Opposition against the Texas measures includes global tech giants
IBM and Apple , major Texas city police chiefs who contested
claims the bills would protect public safety, left-leaning
religious leaders and the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars
team.

Republican Representative Ron Simmons, who sponsored a version of
the bathroom legislation in the Texas House, said the privacy
issue at the heart of the bills is supported by a wide majority
of Republican primary voters.

“Just because we don’t pass legislation doesn’t mean that the
issue is not going to be there,” he said. 

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and
Leslie Adler)

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2017. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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