You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Gov. Abbott says he wants to sign a transgender bathroom bill


Highlights

Abbott says he will work with the House and Senate to pass a bill targeting transgender bathroom use.

House committee will hold a hearing on a new bill to limit anti-discrimination policies on restrooms.

No longer silent on an issue that has roiled the Legislature for months, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he wants to work with the House and Senate to approve a transgender bathroom bill.

“I support the principles of both the Senate and House to protect privacy in bathrooms. We will work to get a bill to my desk,” Abbott said via Twitter.

Abbott’s statement of support came one day before a House committee was to begin debate on a new measure that would block cities, counties and school districts from enacting or enforcing transgender-friendly restroom policies.

House Bill 2899 by state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, would nullify local anti-discrimination protections that regulate access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.

“It’s really targeted at making sure that a city or a political subdivision doesn’t set up a new protected class,” Simmons told the American-Statesman. “My opinion is those issues should be handled at the state level so it’s the same everywhere across the state.”

Abbott called Simmons’ bill “a thoughtful proposal to make sure our children maintain privacy in our school bathrooms and locker rooms.”

“I applaud the House and Senate for tackling an issue that is of growing concern to parents and communities across Texas who are now looking to the Legislature for solutions,” Abbott said in the statement.

Senate Bill 6

By targeting local anti-discrimination policies, such as Austin’s protections based on gender identity, Simmons’ bill takes a different approach than Senate Bill 6, which would require government buildings and public schools and universities to limit bathroom use to the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.

SB 6, approved largely along party lines last month in the Senate, also would block cities and counties from requiring businesses to adopt transgender-friendly restrooms.

But while SB 6 has yet to be referred to a House committee — the first step in the process — HB 2899 will have a public hearing Wednesday before the House State Affairs Committee.

The committee chairman, Rep. Byron Cook, has expressed reservations about SB 6, saying he saw no compelling need for the bill and questioning its potential impact on the state’s economy. On Tuesday, he said he scheduled HB 2899 for a hearing so House members and the public can gain a better understanding of the bill.

“What I’m trying to do is take the issue through a thoughtful committee process,” he said.

House Speaker Joe Straus has also questioned the need for legislation aimed at bathroom use by transgender people.

Broad opposition

Opponents of SB 6 are lining up against Simmons’ bill, saying it also would discriminate against transgender Texans.

“I would suggest that it’s worse than SB 6, which was limited to government buildings and schools, while this applies to everywhere in the state, all restroom facilities anywhere in the state,” said Chuck Smith with Equality Texas.

Smith said HB 2899’s ban on bathroom-related protections for what the legislation broadly calls “a class of persons” was one-sided and unfair.

“It says you cannot protect a class of people, but it would allow any of those jurisdictions to pass ordinances that would specifically discriminate against those people,” Smith said.

“Keep in mind that a number of Texas cities, including Austin, have had these nondiscrimination protections on the books for years without any problem at all,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “Stripping away these protections and barring cities from enacting any others is just as reckless and offensive as the Senate’s bill.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Simmons’ bill, like SB 6, was a potential “self-inflicted” wound that would damage the state’s reputation as open and welcoming.

“Bottom line: It’s still a wrong solution to a nonexistent problem,” Adler said.

The Texas Association of Business, one of the most vocal opponents of SB 6, also opposes Simmons’ bill.

Simmons said HB 2899 was intended “to protect privacy like it’s been done for the last 100 and something years.”

“If this is the big issue that some people say it is, then it needs to be handled at the state level. It needs to be passed by this body and the (Senate) and signed by the governor,” Simmons said.

As originally filed, HB 2899 would have voided any local ordinance that extended protection to classes of people not already protected under state law — such as protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The original bill was a little broader than we were intending,” Simmons said, adding that a new version — focusing on the effect nondiscrimination policies have on restroom use — will be formally unveiled at Wednesday’s committee hearing.

Texas Values, a leading supporter of SB 6, has been pressing House leaders to take action on the bill and had little to say about Simmons’ measure beyond a Facebook post that said its leaders “look forward to a productive House hearing.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

FORECAST: Strong to severe storms expected Saturday night
FORECAST: Strong to severe storms expected Saturday night

The sky is about to get grouchy, weekend warriors. Saturday brings a 30 percent chance of showers that will continue throughout the day and be joined by a chance of thunderstorms after 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. It will be mostly cloudy with a high near 88. That chance of precipitation will ramp up to 60 percent by that night...
8-month-old gets liver transplant from godmother
8-month-old gets liver transplant from godmother

He’s known as “Finn the Mighty Warrior” on a Facebook page devoted to him, and this 8-month old fighter continues to battle against two rare liver conditions. >> Read more trending news But Finn O’Sullivan won’t have to fight alone. The infant, in need of a transplant, found a match — not from a relative...
Woman pulls gun, says barber took too long to give son haircut
Woman pulls gun, says barber took too long to give son haircut

An Ohio woman who believed a barber was taking too long to cut her son’s hair pulled a gun, telling the hairstylist that “I’ve got two clips,” WJW reported. >> Read more trending news According to Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County, the incident occurred April 14 at Allstate Barber College in Cleveland. While...
Dumpster-diving woman turns trash into cash
Dumpster-diving woman turns trash into cash

When school loans loom, post-college graduates have to make up ways to earn money to pay them off. >> Read more trending news So a Texas woman goes Dumpster diving to find makeup, and then sells it to help pay those loans, WGN reported. Shelbi, who did not provide her last name, works full time in environmental regulations. At night, she...
Texas parents concerned about bathroom cameras in park
Texas parents concerned about bathroom cameras in park

Concerned parents are questioning why cameras were installed in a public restroom at a Texas park. >> Read more trending news Patrick McGrath thought teenagers were joking about security video cameras mounted inside the bathrooms at the Springtown Park, until he saw them for himself, KDFW reported. "To see who's going in is what they're...
More Stories