Speaking to reporters during an impromptu press conference Friday evening, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) announced that he is refusing to appoint conferees to meet with the Texas Senate on Senate Bill 2078. That bill was amended in the House to include a homeopathic version of the Texas Privacy Act that was limited to only apply to schools.
That leaves Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Senate with only two options. They can concur with the House’s amendment which Patrick has said “doesn’t appear to do much” or they can refuse. In the latter case, the only way that legislation like the Texas Privacy Act or a similar measure could pass would be during a special session called by Gov. Abbott.
Throughout the entire session, Straus has repeatedly sided with liberal Democrats to obstruct and oppose legislation to protect the safety, dignity and privacy of Texans by preventing biological males from entering women’s restrooms, showers, and locker rooms. Passed by the Texas Senate in March with bipartisan support, the Senate’s bill to address the issue was never referred to committee.
Meanwhile, a House version of the legislation, HB 2899 by State Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) was killed by Straus’ hatchet man, Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), in the House Committee on State Affairs. After the bill died, a number of lawmakers signed on to the legislation – bringing the number of supporters in excess of a majority of lawmakers and proving that SB 6, HB 2899, or a similar measure would have passed if allowed a vote on the floor.
While leaving the specifics of legislation up to the two chambers, Abbott has said that he believes Texas must pass serious legislation to address the issue this session.
“We must see especially students in schools having their privacy, security and safety maintained, but also we want to do all we can to help women have privacy, safety and security to the fullest extent,” said Abbott.
After Straus spoke, Patrick called his own press conference.
Flanked by Republican lawmakers, Patrick said he would not accept the anemic measure proposed by Straus. Instead, Patrick stated he will use the sunset bill that the Texas House failed to pass, in order to force a special session. Once called, Patrick said he would ask Abbott to add both privacy and property taxes to the list of issues that the Texas Legislature could address.
“Property taxes and privacy are two issues we must pass. And if not, we will be in a special session,” said Patrick. “Speaker Straus is the one causing the special session. I’m just allowing it to happen”
“Thanks to Speaker Straus we’re going to have a special session.”