NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Bathroom privacy legislation is among the most controversial bills to be debated this year at the Texas Capitol.
Now, after all the rallies and hearings, some of the bills’ strongest supporters acknowledge it won’t survive the special session.
Republican State Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth says, “I’d say for all intents and purposes any kind of privacy legislation is dead in the House.”
Krause is one of 49 GOP lawmakers in the State House who either authored or co-sponsored the legislation.
It’s stuck in the State Affairs committee chaired by Republican Byron Cook of Corsicana.
House Speaker Joe Straus, Republican of San Antonio, has strongly opposed it as well.
Krause says the special session will end Wednesday and the legislative clock is running out. “There’s not a whole lot that could be done at this point.”
But the main author of the bill, Republican Representative Ron Simmons of Carrollton says he’s not giving up.
In a statement, he says, “As House Bill 46 is good common sense legislation, I am still working to get this bill passed during the remaining time in this special session. We are not aware of any maneuvers to bypass the committee process during the special session to bring this bill to the House floor other than amending the language on another germane bill. We are still looking for a vehicle to accomplish this.”
Trayce Bradford is President of the Texas Eagle Forum, a social conservative group. “I’m very concerned and I think it would be a huge disappointment,” she said.
Bradford supports the legislation, which would regulate use of multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker-rooms at most local government buildings and public schools.
Bradford says House leaders shouldn’t be afraid to debate the bill.
“I think what frustrates so many people we’re talking to is if you just let it get to the floor and let the debate happen, then people would say ok, well, at least we had the discussion and if we didn’t win, we didn’t win.”
Ethan Avanzino, a transgender man in Dallas, is among the thousands of people who have lobbied against the measure at the Capitol.
He’s not ready to declare a political victory. “I am still worried. For me, the bill is not dead until the special session is over and all our legislators start to understand that transgender Texans, people like me, are no threat to society.”
He says he won’t let his guard down. “Really, as long as I exist, I feel like there’s going to be some work to be done.”
SMU political science professor, Cal Jillson is among those who credits businesses and business groups across Texas for holding rallies against the bathroom privacy bills that led to its demise. “The business community has emerged, they won this one. But they don’t set the agenda of Texas politics anymore.”
The State Senate already passed its own version of the bill.
Professor Jillson says Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick set the legislative agenda in Texas. “Joe Straus can block legislation he doesn’t want to have happen. He’s not in a position to set the agenda.”
Jillson says while the bathroom privacy legislation is dead, he says it will return. “It will come back up as a major topic on the Republican primaries in 2018 and it’s quite likely we’ll see it again in 2019.”
The next regular session of the Texas Legislature begins in January of that year.
Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Straus and most state elected leaders will be up for election in November 2018.