Tag Archives: Joe Straus

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.

Speaker Price? Sure, why not? But only if …

Four Price is a friend of mine who I’ve known for about two decades.

Having gotten that disclosure out of the way, you may take my endorsement of the Amarillo Republican lawmaker’s potential candidacy for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives for what it’s worth.

I believe he would make a smashing speaker.

But here’s the important caveat I want to attach to it: I want him to follow the lead set by his good buddy, the current speaker who’s leaving the Legislature after the 2018 election.

Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, is quitting politics. He calls the atmosphere too “divisive” and too “partisan.” He sought to run the House of Representatives with a bipartisan touch. He worked with Democrats as well as Republicans.

That sense of political comity cost Straus support among the hard-core Republicans who believe he had become a Republican In Name Only, a dreaded RINO.

I don’t sense that Price, also a Republican, believes that of his friend and colleague. I believe it would be pure folly for Price to buckle under the pressure that some of the right-wingnuts are going to exert.

One of them happens to run the Texas Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick locked horns with Speaker Straus over that damn Bathroom Bill that died a well-deserved death in this summer’s special legislative session. The bill would have required transgender people to use public restrooms in accordance to their birth certificate gender. Patrick wanted the bill passed into law; Straus resisted, earning him the scorn of county GOP organizations, including the Randall County Republican Party, which resolved to support someone else for speaker in the 2019 session.

So, to my friend Four Price, I ask only this: If you’re going to run for speaker, please resist the temptation to tilt too far to the right. Do not forsake the millions of Texans — such as yours truly — who believe that moderation is critical to effective governing.

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.

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?

A higher-office campaign in the making?

The Texas Bathroom Bill is going to be on the agenda for the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature.

Given that I no longer predict things political, I won’t say this is going to happen. Instead, I’ll just offer my lack of surprise if it does … which is whether Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is angling for a potential run for higher office in 2018.

Straus hates Senate Bill 6, which is the Bathroom Bill that got torpedoed in the regular legislative session. Who loves the bill? That would be Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who runs the Texas Senate.

Apparently, Gov. Greg Abbott favors the bill sufficiently to put it on the Legislature’s lengthy list of issues to consider for its special session.

According to the Texas Tribune: “I’m not a lawyer, but I am a Texan,” Straus said. “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”

Straus said he is concerned about a potential spike in suicide among transgender Texans. The bill under consideration would require individuals to use public restrooms that align with the gender noted on their birth certificate. Is it discriminatory against transgender people? Straus thinks so, as do I.

Check out the Tribune story.

Straus will be up for re-election next year as well in his San Antonio House district. Were he to run for, say, lieutenant governor or governor in the Republican primary, he would be unable to seek GOP nomination for his House seat at the same time.

However, Straus is sounding quite like a champion for those who oppose the Bathroom Bill and his “disgust” over the legislation might spur him to seek higher office.

I believe I will plan to keep my eyes and ears open to this fellow’s immediate future.

Straus vs. Patrick: main event at special session

This might be nothing more than a sideshow, but it’s beginning to affect the agenda that awaits Texas legislators who are preparing to gather in Austin for a special session.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus — both Republicans — are the state’s two leading legislators. Patrick runs the Senate; Straus is the Man of the House.

They are at serious odds over one of the items that Gov. Greg Abbott has placed on the Legislature’s list of items to consider. It’s that damn “Bathroom Bill.”

Patrick insists that the Legislature enact a law that orders people to use public restrooms in accordance with the gender listed on their birth certificate. Straus opposes the bill and has made no secret that he dislikes the bill.

Now we hear that Straus has said something about how the Bathroom Bill is going to cause a spike in suicide among transgender Texans. As the Houston Chronicle reported:

“Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was rocked back on his heels and clearly on defense early in the week after Texas House Speaker Joe Straus opened a new line of attack on Patrick’s push to restrict restroom access based on gender. In short, Straus said he is concerned that the legislation will cause some vulnerable transgender Texans to take their own lives; it is a population that already has a high suicide rate.

“In an interview with the New Yorker, Straus said he rejected overtures from Patrick to resolve the issue because Straus was ‘disgusted by all this’ and ‘I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.'”

Here’s the Chronicle story.

Now this ridiculous bill has become a life-and-death matter? Is that right?

To be blunt, I am disappointed that Gov. Abbott added this bill to the Legislature laundry list of legislative priorities for the special session. I dislike the idea of the state mandating public restroom use in this manner.

I believe it does discriminate against transgender individuals. Moreover, I cannot yet understand just how the state intends to enforce this rule were it ever to become law. Are we going to plant bathroom monitors? Will the state install cameras in restrooms, for crying out loud?

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Patrick and Speaker Straus are fighting between themselves over this idiotic notion.

I’m pulling for Straus.

Bathroom Bill heads for possible derailment in House

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has established his legislative priority for the  Legislature. He wants lawmakers to enact a law that forces people to rely on the gender listed on their birth certificate if they need to use a public restroom.

Senate Bill 6 is known as the Bathroom Bill. It sailed through the state Senate. It’s now headed for a possible uncertain future in the state House, where Speaker Joe Straus is decidedly less enthusiastic about the Bathroom Bill than Dan Patrick.

I have struggled with this one. I’ve been quiet on it so far. I believe that SB 6 is a needless piece of legislation. It’s also narrow-minded, bigoted and it ignores the reality — as difficult as it is for some of us to understand — that some individuals actually do identify with a gender that is not listed on their birth certificate.

Patrick is angry at Straus because he doesn’t share his commitment to this piece of legislation.

SB 6 might not get an up-or-down vote on the floor of the House. Does that kill the legislation? Not necessarily. Gov. Greg Abbott can call a special legislative session to ensure that the bill gets a vote. I would hope the governor would leave SB 6 in the dust bin if it never gets that vote.

The Bathroom Bill strikes me as a sort of solution in search of a problem. Is this issue the kind of thing that should occupy so much of our legislators’ time, energy and commitment? No.

Is there a serious threat to individuals being sexually assaulted in public restrooms by a transgender individual? No. Yet the lieutenant governor keeps harping on the need to protect Texans against sexual predators pretending to be women just so they can use women’s restrooms.

Let’s get real, ladies and gentlemen of the Texas Legislature.

Individuals can — and do — identify with opposite genders. How many of them are there? I have no clue. It’s likely a tiny fraction of the 27 million residents of this great state.

Let’s concentrate on bigger issues. The Bathroom Bill isn’t one of them.

Gov. Abbott slams door on Syrian refugees

  Syrian children march in the refugee camp in Jordan.  The number of Children in this camp exceeds 60% of the total number of refugees hence the name "Children's camp". Some of them lost their relatives, but others lost their parents.

Honestly, I have a measure of sympathy for what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared with regard to refugees from Syria.

He has informed President Obama that Texas won’t accept any refugees from the nation they are fleeing. Why? One individual who entered France as a “refugee” reportedly was part of the attack force that terrorized Paris this past week, killing 129 people and injuring hundreds more.

Abbott doesn’t want to take any chances by allowing Syrians into this state. He joins the governors of Alabama and Michigan in banning Syrian refugees.

On the other hand, I believe it is fair to ask: Is this what the United States of America stands for?

An Austin immigration lawyer told the Texas Tribune that Abbott’s order is legal, but questions whether it is right.

“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas,” Abbott wrote to President Obama.

I get that. But aren’t there intense security measures a state such as Texas can take screen all applicants coming here from Syria to ensure that they do not have any ties to the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah … or any sinister terrorist organization?

Here’s more from the Tribune: “House Speaker Joe Straus on Monday took a more nuanced position, saying he agreed with Abbott’s ‘concern’ and that refugees needed “thorough background reviews” in order to be placed in Texas. ‘I share Gov. Abbott’s concern that relocating refugees to Texas without thorough background reviews compromises our security,’ Straus said in an emailed statement. ‘Our highest priority as a state has been and should continue to be the safety of all Texans.’”

Virtually all the refugees coming here are fleeing terror, murder, warfare, mayhem, bloodshed. You name it, they’re seeking to escape that misery. What is to become of them? Do we send them to other states? Do we — as Donald Trump suggests — send them back to the chaos they are fleeing?

We proclaim ourselves to live in the Land of Opportunity. We profess our nation to be a bastion for the dispossessed.

Of course no one wants to create a safe haven for terrorist monsters. What, though, does the world do with those who deserve protection from those who would kill them?