Texas' Special Session Ended, But State Lawkmakers Still Want To Discuss Bathroom Bill

Aug 16, 2017
Originally published on August 16, 2017 6:51 pm
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Texas' state legislature has failed to pass a so-called bathroom bill for the second time. The proposal resembled a law North Carolina passed last year. It would have required transgender people in Texas to use a bathroom corresponding to their gender at birth. As NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, the bill failed, but the battle in Texas continues.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: After the first time the House effectively killed Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick's so-called bathroom bill, Patrick was furious, and Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the legislature. But yesterday, House Speaker Joe Straus, a moderate from San Antonio, sent his own surprise attack message by adjourning that special session a day early.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE STRAUS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that we adjourn sine die in memory of House Bill 21.

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GOODWYN: Although passed by the Texas Senate, the bathroom bill never made it to the House floor for a vote. In a press conference, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, who leads the Senate, was livid at the speaker, and he didn't hold back.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DAN PATRICK: When you have a speaker who is twisting arms for people not to vote or sign on a bill, when you have a speaker that says, I will kill privacy no matter what the people of Texas want. And the people of Texas don't want their children showering together in 10th grade. They don't want sexual predators who would use that as a loophole to follow any of the women in this room into a bathroom. The people of Texas don't want that.

GOODWYN: Patrick tried out a particularly Texan insult by suggesting it was fortunate that the speaker hadn't been at the Alamo because he'd have been the first one over the wall to run away. But if Speaker Straus is the lieutenant governor's political boogie man, Straus enjoys a lot of high-powered company - the CEOs of Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Microsoft, Pay-Pal, Dow Chemical, Shell, ExxonMobil and on and on. The list of corporations and entities opposing the Texas bathroom bill, including the NFL and the NBA, runs into the hundreds.

The legislation was widely viewed as discriminatory, even cruelly so, as transgender people are often the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. Having allies with this kind of enormous financial and political clout no doubt kept Straus plenty warm at night.

But the war may not be over. Texas Governor Greg Abbott could call a second special session, and the battle over the bathroom bill could be joined again. Although given the speaker's unwavering opposition, its prospects are not likely to improve. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF POINT JUNCTURE, WA SONG, "TURNING SHOTGUN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.