AUSTIN (AP) — Texas senators have begun an emotionally charged floor debate over a revived “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people.
The chances of passage remain tenuous even though Republicans firmly control the Legislature.
Police chiefs from Texas’ largest cities voiced their displeasure with the bill on Tuesday, saying it will make the state less safe and waste their time.
Officials from Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and El Paso said they’d not found examples of restroom-related sexual assaults and that forcing them to combat non-existent crime will increase discrimination and make Texas more dangerous.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo noted that state lawmakers ignored law enforcement opposition while recently passing a “sanctuary cities” law allowing police to inquire about peoples’ immigration status. He urged the Legislature “don’t put another handcuff” on police.
State senators approved a proposal mandating transgender Texans use public restrooms corresponding to their birth-certificate genders during the regular legislative session that ended Memorial Day. Business groups complained it would wreak economic havoc in Texas similar to one approved last year by North Carolina.
The Texas House eventually approved a version applying only to public schools, which the Senate rejected as too weak. The issue stalled until Republican Gov. Greg Abbott convened a special session to advance it and other conservative priorities.
Outnumbered Democrats can’t stop the bill, which should pass the Senate on Tuesday. Its House fate is unclear.
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