Bathroom bill in 2019? New House Speaker says Texas doesn’t need that distraction
AUSTIN — In 2017, one of the most talked about bills in Texas would have required transgender people to use bathrooms matching the sex on their birth certificates, spurring a flood of protests at the capitol as civil rights groups and business leaders rallied against it. Though the bill did not pass, this year hardly anyone is talking about another push for it.
New Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen wants it to stay that way.
“I would be very discouraged if a distraction of that type derailed the opportunity of significant school finance reform or property tax reform,” the newly elected speaker told Hearst Newspapers.
Related: Five things to watch in the Texas Legislature in 2019
Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, made passing the bathroom bill a priority in the last session of the Texas Legislature, saying it would protect women and girls from predators.
Critics argued the legislation was a veiled attempt to discriminate against people who are transgender by banning them from bathrooms that align with their gender identities. The bill’s opponents included major Texas employers Amazon and American Airlines, and a study concluded it could cost the state as many as 185,000 jobs in its first year.
Since then, Patrick has said the battle over bathroom legislation is “settled.” The lawmaker who carried the bill in 2017, Republican Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton, lost his re-election. And Abbott said while running for re-election that a bathroom bill is “not on my agenda” but declined to say whether he’d sign such a bill if it reached his desk.
The issue is still a top priority of Texas Values, a group that promotes religious freedom and biblical values in Texas government. The organization contends students are at risk of being forced to share locker rooms and bathrooms with members of the opposite sex. “And the issue is only getting worse,” the group says.