Tag Archives: bathroom bill

Lt. Gov. Patrick earns this ‘honor’

Texas Monthly has named Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as its recipient of the Bum Steer of the Year Award.

Good call, Texas Monthly.

The magazine bestowed the “honor” on Patrick because of a monstrosity called Senate Bill 6, aka the Bathroom Bill.

TM notes that Patrick was hellbent to get this bill passed out of both legislative chambers in 2017. Except that he ran into a small — no, major — obstacle: House Speaker Joe Straus, a fellow Republican, was having none of it.

Straus, according to TM, said the Legislature had many more important issues to ponder than to decide whether to require people to use restroom facilities in accordance with the gender assigned on their birth certificates.

SB 6 was designed to discriminate against transgender individuals. Speaker Straus said “no can do.” He didn’t want the House to follow the Senate’s lead. He blocked SB 6 in the Legislature’s regular session and then followed suit during the special session that Gov. Greg Abbott called.

Texas Monthly called the Bathroom Bill effort “a master class in waste.”

Thanks, of course, to the efforts of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Yep, he’s the Bum Steer of the Year.

Die, Bathroom Bill, just die

I am going to make a not-very-aggressive prediction.

It is that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is going to bow out of politics at the end of 2018. He likely will ignore my plea that he reconsider his decision to not seek re-election from his San Antonio House district next year.

Speaker Straus, would you reconsider quitting the House?

There. That all said, my hope now is that the next speaker of the House of Representatives will follow Straus’s lead and do whatever he or she can to derail that crazy Bathroom Bill that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and most of the Texas Senate wanted to enact into law this year.

The Bathroom Bill was the brainchild — if you want to call it that — of archconservative legislators who had this goofy notion that it would be OK to discriminate against transgender people. They sought to craft a bill that required individuals to use public restrooms in accordance with the gender designated on their birth certificate.

That means a man who becomes a woman must use the men’s room; same for women who become men.

They came up with this cockamamie idea that transgendered people would seek to assault people sexually in those restrooms.

The good news came from police chiefs and business executives across the state. They all came out in opposition to the Bathroom Bill. The speaker of the House, Straus, heard their concerns and said “No can do” when the Bathroom Bill made its way to the other end of the State Capitol from the Senate.

Straus was having none of it. The bill died in the regular session and then didn’t survive the special legislative session that Gov. Greg Abbott called.

Where do we stand now?

I’ll also presume that Lt. Gov. Patrick will be re-elected in 2018. He’ll then bring his nutty notion back to the Senate when the 2019 Legislature convenes. The House will be led by someone other than Speaker Straus. It well might be state Rep. Four Price, the Amarillo Republican who told me he was a big supporter of Straus and his agenda. Dare I presume, thus, that he, too, might block a future Bathroom Bill from becoming law? One can hope.

If it is someone else, then one can hope that whoever ascends to the speaker’s chair would do the same thing.

At least that’s my hope for the next legislative session: Kill the Bathroom Bill dead, man.

Speaker Straus, would you reconsider quitting the House?

Joe Straus has declared that “decency trumped tribalism” in Alabama.

Yes, it did. The election of U.S. Sen.-elect Doug Jones over his fiery and deeply flawed foe, Roy Moore, suggests a potential turning of the tide in deeply red, Republican-leaning states.

Straus, the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, issued a stern warning to his fellow Texans in a talk to the Greater Austin Crime Commission. “If more mainstream voters participate in primaries, there will be fewer Roy Moores in position to hold important offices,” Straus said.

Straus is on point

“Mainstream voters” are opting out of the primary process these days, Straus fears. I share his fear. I also want Straus to rethink his decision to retire from public life after the 2018 midterm election.

He is stepping down as speaker of the House. Indeed, he represents the very type of “mainstream politician” that states such as Texas need as government faces a frontal assault by political zealots. In Texas, that assault is coming from within the Republican Party.

Straus is a mainstream Republican who led the fight to kill the ridiculous Bathroom Bill that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate wanted to enact. That bill would have required transgender folks to use public restrooms according to the gender assigned on their birth certificate. Straus made damn sure the House wouldn’t follow suit and, in his mind, discriminate against Texans.

Mainstream politics, anyone? There you have it. Speaker Straus embodied it quite nicely during the special legislative session that Gov. Greg Abbott called earlier this year.

When someone such as Straus declares that “decency” must win the day, he speaks from intense personal experience.

I know he won’t reconsider his decision to step aside at the end of next year. He likely would face a Republican primary challenge in San Antonio.

But still … I want to make the plea just one time for the record. Stay in the fight, Mr. Speaker. The state needs you.

All hell is about to break loose in Austin

You want to hear the rumble of thunder under your feet?

Put your ear to the ground and get a load of the racket emanating from a Texas legislator’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in 2018.

That would be House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, who stood firm, tall and steady against the onslaught of the far right within his party. Straus is calling it quits.

The Texas Tribune is reporting that a political earthquake is under way in Austin. A Rice University political scientist says the “political center in Texas” has just collapsed.

That might be the truth.

Straus fought against the TEA Party and other fringe elements within the Republican Party. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sought to shove the Bathroom Bill down our throats. Straus was having none of it; a bill that would require people to use public restrooms according to the gender noted on their birth certificate. The Bathroom Bill discriminates against transgendered individuals and Straus wouldn’t stand for it.

His stubborn refusal to let the bill get a vote in the House has drawn the outrage from those on the right. So the speaker is out of there.

And the successors are starting the line up. One of them might be a friend of mine, Rep. Four Price, an Amarillo Republican first elected to the House in 2010. I asked Price about the speaker’s future a few weeks ago, but he said he was standing behind his guy, Straus.

Now that the speaker is on his way out, there exists an opportunity for one of Straus’s key lieutenants — that would be Price — to step in and maintain the moderate tone that the House ought to keep.

As the Texas Tribune reports: More than any other Texas Republican with real power, Straus was seen as a voice of moderation. On issue after issue, he and his team alone stood in the way of the kind of runaway populism that Donald Trump championed and major statewide Republicans endorsed.

Here’s the Tribune article

Will another moderate step up? Might it be Four Price? And would a Speaker Price resist the pressure that’s sure to come hard from the far right?

Meanwhile, the ground continues to rumble.

Randall County GOP puts Speaker Straus on notice

So, just how Republican-red is Randall County, Texas?

It believes that the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus of San Antonio, isn’t conservative enough. It believes he has stalled legislation near and dear to the far right wing of the GOP. Why, he is just too bipartisan, too willing to work with those dreaded Democrats in the Texas House.

So, the Randall County Republican Party has joined some other county GOP operations in pulling its support of Straus should the Republican seek another term as speaker of the House.

Good bleeping grief!

Straus appears to have drawn the ire of the Randall County GOP because he heeds public opinion on certain controversial measures. Off the top of my noggin, the Bathroom Bill comes immediately to mind.

Texas senators approved the Bathroom Bill, which was pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and sent it to the House. Straus opposed the bill that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms in accordance to the sexual identity stated on their birth certificate. Straus saw the bill for what it was: an unenforceable act of discrimination against some Texans. He joined chiefs of police, business executives and medical professionals who also opposed the Bathroom Bill.

But because he didn’t push this monstrosity of a bill through the House — among other legislation — he no longer deserves to be speaker. The Randall County GOP’s resolution seeks to get state Reps. John Smithee and Four Price, both Amarillo Republicans, to vote against Straus if he seeks another speaker term.

It’s interesting to me that Price, whose district includes Potter County, declined to comment to the media about the Randall County resolution. Why do you suppose he did that? Oh, maybe it’s because he might applaud the job Straus has done while serving as the Man of the House.

I don’t want the Randall County Republican Party to have its way. The Texas House has managed to stall some overheated legislative remedies, the Bathroom Bill being one of them.

As for the bipartisanship that Straus has shown, I welcome that, too. It is in keeping with a longstanding Texas legislative tradition with governors, lieutenant governors and Texas House speakers routinely reaching across the aisle to get things done for the good of the entire state.

A tiny sliver of good news from Harvey

It occurs to me that Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has produced a tiny, minuscule sliver of good news for Texans.

The monstrous storm that drowned the Gulf Coast has diverted Texas legislators’ attention away from idiotic notions, such as mandating that people use public restrooms in accordance with the gender designated on their birth certificate.

Yes, the Legislature gathered in special session to consider 20 items put before it by Gov. Greg Abbott. One of them was that goofy Bathroom Bill. The Legislature adjourned its special session with the Bathroom Bill going nowhere. Then came Hurricane Harvey, which turned into Tropical Storm Harvey, which then tore the coast apart from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle.

The storm’s wrath riveted Gov. Abbott’s attention away from nutty notions such as the Bathroom Bill and focused him tightly on his role as chief disaster relief coordinator — a job he has done skillfully; he has exhibited tremendous leadership during this time of crisis.

The Legislature, meanwhile, has gone home across the state. Some of them have returned to flood-ravaged communities along the coast. They all have more urgent matters to which they must attend.

Bathroom Bill is dead; may it remain dead

Ladies and gents, boys and girls … I am delighted to proclaim the return to sanity in at least governmental power center.

That would be in Austin, Texas, where the Legislature is concluding a special session called to deal with 20 issues mandated by Gov. Greg Abbott. One of them was the so-called Bathroom Bill.

The Bathroom Bill has been flushed away. It’s gone. The Legislature won’t send this idiotic notion to the governor’s desk.

While the nation is trying to gather its wits after the president’s stunning remarks Tuesday about “both sides” sharing blame for the tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville, Texas lawmakers have performed a profoundly sane act by killing the Bathroom Bill.

The bill, which was part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s wish list of items to be enacted, would have required folks to use bathrooms in accordance with the gender noted on their birth certificates. It is intended to prevent transgender individuals who identify with the “other gender” to use the bathroom commensurate with their sexual identity.

That would apply to those who’ve actually had their gender changed surgically. Yep, a man who was born a woman would have had to use the women’s restroom — and vice versa.

Discriminatory? Yeah. Just a tad.

Texas senators approved this bill and sent it to the House of Representatives. Speaker Joe Straus, though, opposed it, as did most House members. Straus said he wouldn’t be party to a bill that discriminated against transgendered individuals.

So, the bill has died a quiet death.

Lt. Gov. Patrick had support among social conservatives and clergy. Police chiefs opposed it, as did business leaders. According to the Texas Tribune: “Transgender women, men and children from across Texas descended on the Capitol to testify about how the proposal — which would ban local policies that ensured transgender individuals’ right to use public and school restrooms that match their gender identity — could endanger their lives. The business community rallied against the legislation too, giving House Speaker Joe Straus cover as he refused to negotiate with Patrick on bathroom restrictions.”

Read the rest of the Tribune story here.

It’s foolish to predict that the Bathroom Bill will remain dead. It might come back when the 2019 Legislature convenes. It might even be part of yet another special session if Gov. Abbott is inclined to call one.

I hope he doesn’t. The state has many compelling issues with which to wrestle. The nonsense associated with the use of public restrooms isn’t one of them.

Goodbye to the Bathroom Bill? Good riddance!

That so-called Bathroom Bill appears set to be flushed down the toilet.

It’s all right with me.

The Texas Legislature’s special session will adjourn in just a few days. The bill that the Senate approved and sent to the House of Representatives appears now to be languishing for the duration of the special session.

The bill is supposed to require individuals to use public restrooms in accordance to the gender noted on their birth certificate. It discriminates against the tiny portion of the population that considers itself “transgender.” These are folks with a sexual identity that differs from their gender at the time of birth. Some of them have taken steps to surgically change their gender identity.

That didn’t dissuade Texas senators from approving the bill, which is a favorite of the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, another Republican, thinks differently of the bill. So, the bill is unlikely to make it out of the House.

That’s all right with me.

The enforceability of the bill creates the biggest problem for me. That is, I am still baffled on how the state tells someone who’s changed their sexual identity that he or she cannot use the rest room that comports with who they are. How does the state enforce such a rule? Will there be search-and-frisk teams posted in public restrooms?

This is a classic case of the state looking for a problem to solve. Police chiefs report virtually zero cases of sexual assault caused by transgender individuals.

Which brings me to the basic question: What is the point of this intrusive legislation?

‘Bathroom Bill’ on life support? Pull the plug!

Texas’s so-called “Bathroom Bill” is wallowing in the Texas House of Representatives.

Some lawmakers have said the bill is on “life support.” It’s not likely to get to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature.

To which I offer a hearty “hurrah!”

The Texas Legislature has eight days to go before adjourning its special session. The Senate has sent a bushel bucket of bills to the House. One of them is that damn Bathroom Bill, which requires individuals to use public restrooms commensurate with the gender listed on their birth certificate. The bill discriminates against transgender individuals. It is a patently ridiculous piece of legislation.

Legislative Republicans say it’s intent is to protect women and girls from male sexual predators who enter their restrooms disguised as women. Police chiefs around the state say that rationale is utter hogwash, that they have no reports of that kind of sexual assault.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus opposes it. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick supports it. The bill is one of many such bills that might end up in the trash can when the Legislature gavels the special session to a close.

If the governor intends to bring legislators back to Austin to finish their work, my sincere hope is that he reduces the legislative call by at least one measure: that would be the Bathroom Bill.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “House State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said Tuesday he will not give the ‘bathroom bill’ a hearing in his committee — and the measure’s author, state Rep. Ron Simmons, said it would be difficult to amend the bill as written to any other legislation moving through the chamber.”

Here is the Texas Tribune story.

It looks to me as though it’s time to pull the plug on the Bathroom Bill and concentrate on issues that really matter to all Texans.

How does state enforce Bathroom Bill?

A friend and former colleagues poses a fascinating and pertinent observation about the Bathroom Bill that is pending in the Texas Legislature.

She writes: “So this bathroom bill thing. They say you will have to go to (the) restroom with the gender you were born. So, if a female changes into a male, he will have to go to women’s restroom. I can see women screaming ‘There’s a man in our bathroom.’ Go ahead and vote for your stupid bill so I can stand and watch all you horrified women when a man walks in.”

The Texas Senate has approved the bill and sent it to the House of Representatives. Indeed, the Legislature is meeting in special session, with the Bathroom Bill on its agenda of work to be completed. Gov. Greg Abbott included this monstrosity of a bill in a lengthy list of issues for the Legislature to ponder.

My friend wonders, as I do, about this bill’s enforceability.

If one is going to complete surgery that changes one’s sexual identity, how does the state enforce this law that requires folks to use restrooms in accordance with the gender noted on his or her birth certificate?

The Houston Chronicle reports that business executives are lining up against this bill: “Eleven additional top business executives, including leaders at iconic Texas firms like Neiman-Marcus and Baker Hughes, have joined the growing chorus of protests to kill the controversial bathroom bill.

“In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, who supports passage of the measure, the corporate officials warn ‘long-term economic harm’ they believe the passage of the ‘discriminatory’  legislation will bring and ask for Abbott’s  ‘leadership in keeping Texas open and welcoming to all.'”

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has lined up against the bill. I’m unsure at this moment how the House is going to act, whether it will follow the speaker’s lead. I’m reminded of how a former Texas House speaker, Democrat Pete Laney of Hale Center, used to operate. He always sought to “let the will of the House” determine the fate of legislation.

Will that be Speaker Straus’s method of operation as the House takes up this issue?

Actually, I still believe this bill discriminates against transgender citizens.

I’ll leave it to a strong conservative U.S. senator, Orrin Hatch, to state what many of us believe. Sen. Hatch, in rejecting Donald Trump’s policy statement by tweet that bans transgender Americans from serving in the military, noted that transgender individuals don’t “choose” to change their sexual identity. “They are born that way,” he said.

The same argument ought to be leveled against this ridiculous legislation that awaits its fate in the Texas Legislature.