Week two of special session in Austin
AUSTIN, Texas – With three weeks left in the special session, Republicans in the Senate are rushing at break-neck speed to move a score of bills deemed priorities by the governor and Lieutenant governor.
But that sense of urgency isn’t shared in the House, where the speaker said on Monday he’ll do whatever he can to kill one of the most controversial of those measures.
The Senate began debating 17 bills Monday that senators worked night and day to push through committees over the weekend. They hope to vote them out of the Senate and on to the House by the end of the week.
Many are controversial bills on abortion, property taxes, and school vouchers that died in the House during the regular session.
But in the House, the pace is leisurely.
And Monday, House Speaker Joe Straus said he’ll do whatever he can to kill the controversial bill to restrict the use of public bathrooms by transgender Texans.
“I just believe it is not in the best interest of Texas to pass this bill,” Straus said. “I will use whatever influence I have to try to avoid the mistake North Carolina make and had to at least partially back up on. No other state in the United States has followed North Carolina’s example.”
Straus said his primary focus remains finding a new way to fund public education, which also failed in the Senate during the regular session.
House members did pass the sunset legislation on Monday.
As early as Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on the privacy, or so-called bathroom bill.
"Hey, hey! Ho, ho,” shouted protesters in Austin Friday before the proposal soared out of a senate committee that heard hours of testimony both for and against the bill.
Some business leaders have called the bill disastrous for the state.
"Sitting through the testimony. Having emotional testimony is something that we have a duty to do. And it's certainly touches my heart," Sen. Lois Kohlkorst, Republican from Brenham, said.
Kohlkorst said the proposed law would protect women and children in bathrooms by requiring people to use the bathroom that coincides with the sex on their birth certificate.
"More people could die if this bill becomes law,” said a video released by Legacy Community Health.
Opponents said the bill would leave some transgender children with no place to turn and further hurt an already fragile community that feels discrimination.
The video continued and said, "40 percent of transgender people attempt to take their own life. I can tell you, the crisis is real."
If the full Texas Senate approves the measure, it would then go to the Texas House for consideration.
A similar bill died in the Texas House during the regular session.
Speaker of the House Joe Strauss has indicated he does not intend to bring the proposal before representatives.
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