Texas Legislature scrambles to approve several measures before end of session

AUSTIN – The Texas Legislature is scrambling to approve several measures before the end of its  session next week.

There is movements on two big issues that have sparked outrage in the past.

The latest amendment would add vouchers to a huge school finance bill, possibly putting more than $1 billion for Texas schools in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, a new version of the bathroom bill for schools would require transgender students to use the bathroom of their biological sex.

The Senate early Monday morning added a voucher plan to the school finance bill, which had already cleared the House.

The vouchers would help special-education students pay for private school by using taxpayer money in an education savings account.

The original House plan included increasing per-student funding from $210 to more than $5,000.

The new version would scrap the $210 increase altogether and increase total funding by only about $500 million vs. the original $1.6 billion.

The bill now goes to the House, which is expected to reject the changes.

The bathroom bill would schools to provide single-occupancy bathrooms for students who do not wish to use the restroom based on their biological sex.

Supporters said the bill keeps the safety of all children in mind. Opponents said it's an attack on transgender people.

"There is absolutely no intent, and I would argue nothing in this language discriminates against anyone. In fact, it makes sure there are reasonable accommodations for all children," said Republican state rep. Chris Paddie.

"I personally think that a trans boy is a boy and a trans girl is a girl. A trans woman is a woman. A trans man is a man. So nobody should be policed about where they want to go to the bathroom," said Melissa Ballard, the mother of a trans child.

Final House approval of the bathroom amendment is expected Monday. The amendment then goes to the Senate which is expected to support it.

The voucher bill heads to the House where it's expected to be rejected. It would then go to a conference committee where differences need to be smoothed out before the legislative session ends on May 29.

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