Bathroom Bill

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

A Houston-based religious nonprofit behind the so-called bathroom bill is suing the City of Austin over its anti-discrimination hiring ordinance. The U.S. Pastor Council filed suit in a federal district court late last week, alleging the city rule's lack of exemptions for churches or other religiously affiliated groups violates state and federal law.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott himself was opposed to the controversial “bathroom bill” that dominated debate at the Texas Capitol for much of 2017, according to a state representative involved in keeping the legislation from passing the Texas House.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, the chairman of the House State Affairs committee that blocked the bill from reaching the House floor for a full vote, said Tuesday that Abbott “did not want that bill on his desk.”

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 40 Texans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are running for public office this year. Advocates say this is an “unprecedented” number of candidates who are openly LGBT – and that this isn’t just backlash to Donald Trump's election.

Mary Wilson, who is gay, is among those candidates running for the first time.

Andrew Weber / KUT

As the year comes to a close, we're looking back at the stories that defined 2017.

In the Texas Legislature, there were fights: over the so-called bathroom bill and sanctuary city policies. At City Hall, there were more fights: over CodeNEXT and the latest police contract. And on the streets, there were even more fights: over an unorthodox new president and women's rights, ICE raids and immigration policies, and Confederate statues and symbols.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Cecilia Melchor had a friend visiting from out of town last Wednesday. The 22-year-old UT-Austin student didn’t necessarily want to go out, but her friend insisted. They grabbed some dinner before heading to the Chuggin’ Monkey on East Sixth Street.

Melchor had to use the restroom. When she was finished, the bouncer approached her.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday put blame on the House — particularly Speaker Joe Straus — for the shortcomings of the special session and left the door open to calling another one.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera

As part of Republican efforts to revive the controversial "bathroom bill," the Texas Senate on Tuesday gave approval to another version of the legislation.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Law enforcement officials from across the state spoke out today at the Texas Capitol against proposed legislation that would restrict bathroom access to transgender people. Senate Bill 3, known as the “bathroom bill,” would restrict access to restrooms in government buildings to the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.

Chiefs and other high-ranking law enforcement officers were uniform in their condemnation of the bill, which is a priority item during the special legislative session.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

As part of state lawmakers’ second attempt at passing a bathroom bill this year, a panel of Senate lawmakers voted Friday to advance two measures that would restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

As the Texas Senate prepares to consider legislation to restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans in legislative overtime, the national Episcopal Church is renewing its opposition to such proposals.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The Legislature’s special session begins this Tuesday. It’s 30 days long with 20 items on the agenda and Gov. Greg Abbott is calling the shots.

Cassandra Pollock / Texas Tribune

As state lawmakers return to Austin for legislative overtime, tech giant IBM is stepping up its fight to defeat legislation it says would discriminate against children and harm its Texas recruiting efforts. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

An article by New Yorker staff writer and Texas resident Lawrence Wright makes the case that Texas is a political bellwether. In "America's Future Is Texas," Wright argues that, indeed, as Texas goes, so goes the nation — politically speaking, at any rate.

Jacob Villanueva / Texas Tribune

The “bathroom bill” that preoccupied the Texas Legislature for the first half of the year is important to only 44 percent of the state’s voters — and “very important” to only 26 percent, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. 

During the regular session, lawmakers considered but did not pass legislation that would regulate transgender Texans’ use of public restrooms, blocking them from using facilities not designated for their “biological sex.”

Beth Cortez-Neavel/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a letter yesterday addressed to “All Good People in the World” following two U.S. Senators’ call for South by Southwest to relocate their annual festival out of Texas until Senate Bill 4 is repealed or overturned by the courts.

Jon Wiley/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

What The New York Times is calling one of Texas’ “most tumultuous political moments in decades” is set to play out in a special session announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday.

Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on July 18 for a 30-day special session, the first one Abbott has called during his time as governor.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a special session of the Texas Legislature to begin July 18.

"Considering all the successes of the 85th legislative session, we should not be where we are today," he said. "A special session was entirely avoidable, and there was plenty of time for the Legislature to forge compromises to avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session."

Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature appears to be at a stalemate on a “bathroom bill” that could push the legislative session into overtime.

Refusing to go any further to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans, House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday that the Senate can take or leave a proposed compromise it passed on Sunday — to which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick later responded with a resounding no.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

With just days left in the Texas 2017 regular legislative session, the fate of a so-called “bathroom bill” is still uncertain.

Just after 1 a.m., state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) attached an amendment to a House bill in an effort to extend the life of the Senate’s controversial proposal.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

The legislative wrangling over where transgender Texans can use the bathroom isn’t over yet.

State Sen. Larry Taylor said he will reject the House's proposed compromise on the "bathroom bill," an amendment to Senate Bill 2078 that required school districts to provide single-occupancy bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities for students who don’t want to use the ones associated with their “biological sex.”

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Amid threats of a special legislative session over the “bathroom bill,” the Texas House on Sunday took a last-minute vote and approved a proposal that would keep transgender students from using school bathrooms in line with their gender identity.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed Tuesday he told pastors to pressure members of the Texas House to pass the so-called “bathroom bill.”

“These pastors were concerned about the possibility of no law passing that would protect the safety of women and children in bathrooms,” Abbott said in a radio interview with Dallas-Fort Worth station WBAP-AM host Chris Salcedo.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

A proposal to gut cities and school districts’ trans-inclusive bathroom policies did not advance in the House ahead of a crucial deadline, nixing the measure's chances of getting a vote by the full chamber. But that doesn't mean that the issue itself is dead.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Prayer is a staple of the Texas Capitol, where lawmakers begin each legislative day with an invocation and bowed heads.

But on Wednesday, about 50 faith leaders of various denominations lined the stairs outside the Texas House in protest. Their prayer was silent, but their message was clear: Don’t legislate against LGBT Texans in our name.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Amid concerns about rolling back local protections for vulnerable Texans and dire economic fallout, a panel of House lawmakers considered a measure into the early hours of Thursday morning that some are hoping will serve as an alternative approach to regulating bathroom use for transgender Texans.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is signaling support for House legislation that some hope will serve as an alternative to the Senate's "bathroom bill."

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

In the aftermath of one troubled study on the economic impact of a "bathroom bill" in Texas, San Antonio tourism officials are returning to the legislative debate with another dire financial outlook.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

As the legislative session heads into its final six weeks, lawmakers have a lot left to do. They face the task of reconciling budgets passed by the House and Senate into a single document. They must act on the governor’s emergency agenda items. And they’ll need to decide the fate of the more than 6,000 bills filed during the session.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

After largely avoiding discussions so far on proposals to regulate bathrooms, the Texas House will wade into the debate this week with a measure some are hoping will serve as an alternative to the Senate’s “bathroom bill.”

Setting aside the Senate’s proposal, the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday will take up House Bill 2899, which will be revised during the hearing to ban municipalities and school districts from enacting or enforcing local policies that regulate bathroom use.

Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick entered the current legislative session with a long list of priorities, and a conservative wind at his back. But despite these advantages, Patrick is unlikely to get what he wants. And that’s largely because of fellow Republican and House Speaker Joe Straus.

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