Speaker re­buffs ef­fort to dis­cuss bath­room de­bate,

Speaker dis­cards amend­ments to rail­road panel bill.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Asher Price ash­er­price@states­man.com Con­tact Asher Price at 512445-3643. Twit­ter: @ash­er­price

Flex­ing his par­lia­men­tary mus­cle, House Speaker Joe Straus headed off ef­forts Tuesday to bring a vote to the House floor on the reg­u­la­tion of the use of bath­rooms by trans­gen­der peo­ple.

In a show­down with so­cially con­ser­va­tive mem­bers, Straus ended de­bate on a bill about the fate of the Texas Rail­road Com­mis­sion, which reg­u­lates oil and gas op­er­a­tions, by an­nounc­ing there were no fur­ther amend­ments to con­sider.

But at least two amend­ments had been filed be­fore the de­bate seek­ing to fold the con­tentious trans­gen­der bath­room is­sue into the rel­a­tively tame oil and gas bill.

With Straus hav­ing sig­naled that he will not let a coun­ter­part to Se­nate Bill 6, which would limit bath­room and locker room use in public build­ings to the gen­der listed on a per­son’s birth cer­tifi­cate, make it to the House floor, so­cial con­ser­va­tives were look­ing for leg­is­la­tion to act as a ve­hi­cle to get such bath­room use rules past Straus.

Con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers quickly de­manded to know why their bills wouldn’t be heard.

Straus said he had de­ter­mined the pro­posed amend­ments “were not ger­mane” to the bill.

A pro­posal by Matt Schae­fer, R-Tyler, re­quired that bath­rooms in build­ings owned or leased by the com­mis­sion shall “be des­ig­nated for and used only by per­sons of the same bi­o­log­i­cal sex.”

An­other pro­posal, by state Rep. Tony Tin­der­holt, R-Ar­ling­ton, man­dated that when de­ter­min­ing whether a com­pany qual­i­fies as a “his­tor­i­cally un­der­uti­lized business,” of­ten based on own­er­ship by one or more women, “the term ‘wo­man’ or ‘women’ shall mean the phys­i­cal con­di­tion of be­ing fe­male, as stated on a per­son’s birth cer­tifi­cate.”

Straus’ abil­ity to keep the amend­ments from be­ing heard were a “func­tion of the pow­ers of the Speaker of the House,” Schae­fer said in an in­ter­view, who said he had been in­formed hours be­fore by the House par­lia­men­tar­ian’s of­fice that the amend­ments were not con­sid­ered on point with the bill.

He said he was de­ter­mined to try to get a vote on SB 6-re­lated lan­guage, which he said he was con­fi­dent would pass the House. But Straus, as re­cently as Fri­day, said the bath­room bill is a “con­trived” an­swer to a “man­u­fac­tured” prob­lem that could un­der­mine Texas’ job cre­ation suc­cess. The speaker has said he sees “no fer­vor” in the House to bring the leg­is­la­tion to the floor.

De­bate over the Rail­road Com­mis­sion leg­is­la­tion got a jolt ear­lier when House mem­bers adopted lan­guage man­dat­ing busi­nesses work­ing in the oil patch ver­ify their work­ers are in the U.S. legally.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dal­las, had of­fered an amend­ment call­ing for the ver­i­fi­ca­tion, known as e-ver­ify, as a way of point­ing out what he called Repub­li­can hypocrisy on im­mi­gra­tion is­sues.

“I wanted to call out hypocrisy of the peo­ple in the GOP who wanted only to at­tack im­mi­grants and not go af­ter em­ploy­ers,” he said.

Law­mak­ers es­sen­tially called his bluff, how­ever, adopt­ing e-ver­ify in the oil patch — though not be­fore strip­ping out lan­guage call­ing for ex­ec­u­tives of any com­pany that does business with the Texas Rail­road Com­mis­sion, which reg­u­lates oil and gas op­er­a­tions, to con­firm, un­der the penalty of per­jury, that the com­pany “does not know­ingly em­ploy any per­son not law­fully present.”

Anchia said his amend­ment was a re­sponse to Repub­li­can ef­forts to pe­nal­ize com­mu­ni­ties that call them­selves sanc­tu­ary cities.

“When it comes to pow­er­ful in­dus­tries you want to give them a free pass, but when it comes to vul­ner­a­ble im­mi­grants, that’s who we want to get tough on,” he told his fel­low law­mak­ers on the floor be­fore his amend­ment passed. “What does that say about you guys?”

Law­mak­ers ul­ti­mately gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval to the bill, which al­lows the Rail­road Com­mis­sion to con­tinue to op­er­ate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.