Lawmakers working to clean up bathroom business

Elizabeth Williams
May 29, 2017

AUSTIN -As the clock ticks down to Monday's adjournment, Texas House members said Sunday that a special session can be averted if the Senate sends a bill to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature that would extend the life of the state Medical Board.

S.B. 277 would eliminate tax breaks for companies building wind farms within 25 miles of military airspace.

Both Texas legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans but the Senate is overseen by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a former radio talk show host popular with conservative activists who has helped push his chamber farther to the right.

"For the third time, the Senate stood strong and passed what we believe is the strongest, most transformational path to move West Virginia forward", Carmichael said.

Patrick said the people of Texas want a bathroom bill and accused the Speaker of putting his views over his constituents.

"This is the right thing to do in order to protect our economy from billions of dollars of losses and more importantly to protect the safety of some very vulnerable young Texans", Straus said about his decision to not appoint conferees.

The bill requires the state to set up a special judicial security division and allows personal security for state judges who have been threatened or attacked.

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And former FBI Director James Comey, who was sacked by Trump, is slated to publicly testify in Congress as early as late May. At the beginning of April he said, "I may have thought, when it happened, that other countries would follow suit".

The issues holding it up are property tax limits and what's become known as the bathroom bill. Patrick said he is resolved to force a special session if a North Carolina-style law that could restrict bathroom access for transgender people doesn't prevail.

Abbott, who unlike other GOP governors nationwide has welcomed possible bathroom restrictions for transgender people, gave no indication Saturday whether the he might keep lawmakers in Austin.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor, said that support from Patrick, "the most powerful man in the Texas legislature", was the key to giving the bill traction in Texas. Straus said it was "absurd" how much time lawmakers spent prioritizing the bill and said his chamber would no longer work on it. The Senate now has 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats.

Abbott is still expected to sign what amounts to Texas Republicans' counterpunch to last year's Supreme Court ruling, which struck down tough rules on abortion clinics and doctors and changed the landscape of abortion access in the nation's second-largest state.

The House let the issue languish for months, then approved on Sunday a more-modest version applying only to schools. And the Senate passed SB 1929 and the House added language to continue the agencies, but the House-Senate conference committee stripped the language to extend the agencies.

"They waited to do their entire session of work in the last 20 some days of session", Patrick said.

Other reports by VgToday

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