With the threat of a special session looming over bathrooms, the Texas House gave its final approval to a controversial measure that would regulate where transgender students can use public school restrooms.

 

House members called it a compromise to the Senate’s stricter version, which would have required transgender Texans to use bathrooms in government buildings and public schools that match their “biological sex.”

 

But limiting it to schools doesn’t seem to be enough for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. He has said he would force a special session if the House didn’t pass some version of a “bathroom bill.”

 

“In terms of privacy, I had not seen the language on the “Paddie Amendment” on Senate Bill 2078 before it was voted on last night,” Patrick said in a statement released Monday. “I also have concerns about its ambiguous language, which doesn’t appear to do much.”

 

The added language in the House bill would require K-12 schools to provide single-stall restrooms and locker rooms to a student “who does not wish” to use facilities designated by “biological sex.”

 

The measure was tacked on to legislation that outlines emergency operations and other school safety regulations.

 

The Governor is the only one who can call a special session. His office released a statement Monday evening. “Governor Abbott’s hope is that the House and the Senate will agree on a measure that, at a minimum, protects the privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms, and he will continue to work with members of both chambers to achieve that goal,” John Wittman, Abbott’s spokesman, said.

 

Until now, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has been reluctant to have his chamber pass bathroom-related legislation. He has cited concerns of economic fallout after the business community came out against SB6.

Speaker Straus released the following statement after the passage of the House’s version on second reading Sunday:

“Representative (Chris) Paddie’s amendment will allow schools to continue to handle sensitive issues as they have been handling them. I believe this amendment will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact of Senate Bill 6. Members of the House wanted to act on this issue and my philosophy as Speaker has never been to force my will on the body. Governor Abbott has said he would demand action on this in a special session, and the House decided to dispose of the issue in this way.”

 

But “disposing of the issue” in this way doesn’t appear to please Patrick.

His latest statement also signals the House didn’t go far enough on another priority he wants passed – a property tax bill.

“I share Governor Abbott’s concern about the lack of a rollback provision in Senate Bill 669 on property taxes,” Patrick said.  “There is still time for the House and Senate to address these concerns — which are both priorities for Texas voters — in a meaningful way.”

 

Speaker Straus has since responded to Patrick’s statement saying, “Now it’s really time for the Senate to take care of the many House priorities that they know they’ve been sitting. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

 

The regular legislative session ends May 29th.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling