Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Anti-Trans 'Bathroom Bill' Dead as Texas House Adjourns

Credit Steve Jurvetson  Texas Tribune Credit Steve Jurvetson Texas Tribune
Lamar Ellis | 17 August, 2017, 02:05

In a concession to the Senate, the House accepted a significantly scaled-back version of their school finance bill, ignoring pleas by Democrats to reject it for a better deal.

In a surprise move, just before 7pm on Tuesday night, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus suddenly accepted a motion from the floor for sine die to end the proceedings of the Texas House with one complete day left in the special session.

Abbott will have to call a second special session if he wants to revive the issue. It's not clear what Abbott will do, but, now running for re-election in 2018, either choice could be potentially politically risky.

Throughout Monday, the outlook continued to look bleak for the most controversial proposal on Abbott's agenda: a "bathroom bill" that would regulate which restrooms transgender Texans can use.

Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a fiery former conservative radio host, pushed hard.

The main version of the Texas bill would have required transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. Police chiefs from Texas' largest cities, including Houston and San Antonio, say they have not found examples of restroom-related sexual assault and argued that the bill would make Texas more risky by emboldening discrimination.

Bills that irked Texas mayors, who said they infringed on cities' authority, included one to limit cities' annexation powers and another to override, of all things, local tree removal ordinances, which limits when and how cities can impose fees when homeowners cut down trees on their properties.

The Texas battle drew particular attention as it carried strong echoes of similar divisions among right-wing conservatives and more socially liberal Republicans on a national level in the Trump era.

Governor Greg Abbott said the measure known as House Bill 214 would protect abortion opponents from subsidizing the procedure.

School finance: Lawmakers approved about $560 million in extra funding for schools and retired teachers.

Texas could have lost about $5.6 billion through 2026 if it had enacted such a measure, said the Texas Association of Business, the state's leading employer grouping.

The state capitol was the site of numerous demonstrations both for and against the legislation throughout the regular and special sessions. And the issue the governor called the special session's top priority - putting proposed, stiff local property tax increases to voters in an effort to limit how much they could be raised - collapsed spectacularly as the House quit early.

The Republican governor of Texas signed into law on Tuesday a measure that will restrict insurance coverage for abortions, compelling women to buy a supplemental plan if they want coverage for the procedure. There's an exception for emergencies, but no exception for rape or incest, which has led critics to say the bill will force women to purchase "rape insurance".

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