On Tuesday, the House of Representatives took up and considered a bill that would create the Brain Institute of Texas, which would be charged with researching brain-related health and diseases. This bill is one of several in a legislative package centered around healthcare that House Speaker Dade Phelan announced a few weeks ago as part of his Healthy Families, Healthy Texas initiative.

The bill is authored by Democrat State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Houston).

Pornography Addiction Amendment

State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) offered an amendment that would have added addiction to pornography to the list of addictions the institute would be charged with studying.

Ultimately, the amendment failed by a vote of 63 in favor and 72 in opposition. Notably, these 13 Republican lawmakers voted against the provision: State Reps. Ernest Bailes (Shepherd), Brad Buckley (Salado), Angie Chen Button (Garland), Giovanni Capriglione (Southlake), Travis Clardy (Nacogdoches), Jake Ellzey (Waxahachie), James Frank (Wichita Falls), Cody Harris (Palestine), Lyle Larson (San Antonio), Geanie Morrison (Victoria), Jim Murphy (Houston), Andrew Murr (Junction), and Gary VanDeaver (New Boston).

 

Plank 285 of the Republican Party of Texas platform says, “The State of Texas shall recognize that pornography is a public health crisis.” Notably, House Republican Caucus chairman State Rep. Jim Murphy was among those who voted against the amendment.

In early April, Cason offered an amendment to a bill that would seek to expand broadband in rural Texas, a legislative priority of both Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Phelan. That amendment was successful, and it would give preference to broadband service providers that maintain a program that blocks access to pornographic or obscene materials by default. That bill passed the House and is currently on the Senate Local & Uncontested Calendar.

Gender Dysphoria Amendment

On the same bill, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) offered an amendment to add gender dysphoria to the list of things to be researched by the newly created Brain Institute of Texas. After surviving a point of order called by Democrat State Rep. Erin Zwiener (Driftwood), the amendment failed by a vote of 66 in favor and 80 in opposition. Similar to Cason’s amendment, several Republicans voted against, including 12 of the 83 Republican Caucus members. Those legislators include State Reps. Brad Buckley (Salado), Drew Darby (San Angelo), Jay Dean (Longview), Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), Ken King (Canadian), Stephanie Klick (Ft. Worth), Lyle Larson (San Antonio), J.M. Lozano (Kingsville), Jim Murphy (Houston), John Raney (College Station), Hugh Shine (Temple), and John Smithee (Amarillo).