Flush other bad ideas with bathroom bill

January 15, 2019 GMT

The bathroom bill was unlikely to resurface in 2019.

Nevertheless, we were pleased to see newly minted House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, give the idea of a bathroom bill 2.0 the big flush.

“I would be very discouraged if a distraction of that type derailed the opportunity of significant school finance reform or property tax reform,” he said.

Notice he said “distraction of that type.” He didn’t simply single out the bathroom bill, which sought to dictate the bathrooms transgender people use and was as unnecessary as it was discriminatory. It put Texas in a bad light. It potentially would have led to an economic boycott. But because the bathroom bill was deemed a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, it distracted lawmakers from dealing with real issues last legislative session. Instead of making headway on school finance, state lawmakers were arguing about policing potties.

Patrick has previously said the bathroom bill fight is over, and Abbott said it was not a priority while campaigning for re-election last year. So, the bathroom bill was likely never coming back, even if certain groups still support it.

But that doesn’t preclude other potentially discriminatory or unnecessarily controversial legislation from rearing its ugly head this session. And that’s why Bonnen’s broad choice of words is welcome. “Distraction of that type” is bigger than the bathroom bill. It means legislation that is inherently divisive, corrosive and unnecessary.

Flush it all and focus on school finance, property taxes, criminal justice reforms and other real Texas issues. It’s the right tone from the new House Speaker.