House Speaker Joe Straus and his allies killed legislation to protect privacy and business freedom in the regular session. And now, to the delight of the state’s homosexual activist lobby, they’re moving to scuttle the issue once again during the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
On Twitter this week Equality Texas, a self-proclaimed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization, began cheerleading Republicans for defying the governor and Texas voters by opposing privacy legislation. The first lawmaker “honored” was Straus, for a statement he made in which he implied that Abbott was an “extremist.”
— Equality Texas (@EqualityTexas) July 16, 2017
Also making Equality Texas’ list, which referred to bills that 21 State Senators voted for and more than 80 House Republicans co-authored as “buzzword, campaign-type legislation.”
— Equality Texas (@EqualityTexas) July 18, 2017
Equality Texas’ tweets are a move to shore-up and celebrate the tiny minority of House Republicans who have publicly opposed privacy legislation and encourage them to kill any pro-privacy bills during the special session.
In March, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate advanced a bipartisan bill, SB 6 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham), which would have prohibited men from entering women’s public restrooms, showers, and locker rooms, while allowing private businesses the liberty of setting their own policies concerning intimate spaces.
Known as the “Texas Privacy Act,” the measure was passed with bipartisan support in the state’s upper chamber, but scuttled in the Texas House where Speaker Joe Straus refused to even refer it to a committee. Likewise, one of Straus’ chief lieutenants, State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) killed the House’s version of the legislation, House Bill 2899 by State Rep. Ron Simmons (R–Carrollton), by refusing to pass the bill out of his committee.
Now that lawmakers are back in Austin and Abbott has added the issue to his agenda for lawmakers to pass in the 30-day session, the Texas Legislature has another chance to pass the Texas Privacy Act or another, similar bill. The question will be if House Speaker Joe Straus will even allow floor debate on the topic, and if not, whether House Republicans will replace him with someone who will.