House speaker Joe Straus made no qualms about expressing his “disgust” with the Texas Bathroom bill during the regular session and has kept to the moral high ground during the special session.
Like a ray of sunshine, we are given hope as the Speaker’s latest indicates he won’t allow himself to be bullied by religious demagogues or oligarch into any bathroom bill, multiple or single occupancy.
Speaker Straus has always taken great pride in respecting individual house members political will but confirms in an interview with Austin NPR 90.5 KUT this morning that he has intentionally blocked some legislation.
“I use the office and the authority that the members have given to me on occasions where I think it’s necessary,” Straus said. “This bathroom bill is a perfect example of that.”
Halfway toward the deadline to make an agreement on the bill, the differences between the chambers only appear more prominent.
The Texas Tribune reports that after plowing through an 11-hour committee hearing and an eight hour-floor debate, the Senate gave final approval to its “bathroom” measure just after midnight last Wednesday. The bill would require transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate or state IDs in schools and buildings overseen by local governments. It would also nix parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to allow transgender residents to use public bathrooms of their choice.
Meanwhile, the House has yet to schedule a committee hearing for similar legislation, and Straus has also held off on referring the Senate’s proposal to a committee for consideration.
State Rep. Byron Cook, the chairman of the committee that the bill must clear to get to the floor, has said he’s disappointed the debate over the bill has wasted so much time — and that it is “smoke-screening” more important issues. But Cook did say the bill will receive a hearing. State Rep. Ron Simmons, the Carrolton Republican carrying the bill, said he believes it will pass the full House if allowed to the floor for a vote. But neither of those statements necessarily adds up to a favorable outcome for the measure in the lower chamber.
Ahead of the special session, Straus said he was “disgusted by all of this” and expressed anxiety about the negative impact such a law could have on transgender children, including possibly an increase in suicides among an already vulnerable population.
Since then, opposition to the bathroom bill has only grown louder in echoing Straus’ concerns. After months of acting through business coalitions, CEOs and top executives for major businesses are attaching their own names to letters expressing hostility toward the legislation, including, on Monday, energy titans Shell and Exxon. Individual school districts have also begun voicing their disapproval of the proposals. Police chiefs from major cities have come out against it and warned they say won’t keep the public safe. And the National Episcopal Church re-emerged in the debate, asking Straus to remain “steadfast” in his opposition to any bathroom bill.
Dan Patrick would gladly use children’s bodies as stepping stones for his 10 minutes in the spotlight added “Right now, if that bill fails,” Patrick said, “he alone will have killed it.”
Long live Joe Straus.