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Governor Abbott Chooses a Bathroom Bill to Support

Abbott seems to support the House solution to the bathroom debacle.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

During the 2015 debate on the Houston anti-discrimination ordinance, Governor Greg Abbott was among those calling for its repeal based on the idea that there should be no men in women’s restrooms—in his mind, that meant transgender women. But during this year’s legislative debate over whether to limit access to bathrooms in government buildings to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate, the governor has avoided the heat of the debate until Tuesday.

In a statement to the Texas Tribune, Abbott expressed support for HB 2899 by Representative Ron Simmons, a Carrollton Republican. Unlike the legislation passed by the Senate, which specifically focuses on a line on a birth certificate, Simmons’ bill simply overturns local anti-discrimination ordinances.

“I applaud the House and Senate for tackling an issue that is of growing concern to parents and communities across Texas who are now looking to the Legislature for solutions,” Abbott said in the statement. “Rep. Simmons is offering a thoughtful proposal to make sure our children maintain privacy in our school bathrooms and locker rooms.”

Soon afterward, Abbott added on his Twitter account: “I support the principles of both the Senate & House to protect privacy in bathrooms. We will work to get a bill to my desk.”

The Dallas Morning News reported on Monday that the language of the bill not only would overturn local ordinance protections for the LGBT community, but also protections for the elderly and military veterans.

Simmons’ bill would forbid cities, counties and school districts from passing regulations affecting bathroom use for any class of people who aren’t already protected in state or federal law. This means any city that’s extended its public accommodations laws beyond race, religion or national origin would not be able to enforce these rules when it comes to bathrooms.

Fort Worth and Austin have both added “age” as a protected class. If the House bill passes, neither city would be able to defend an elderly person who claims they were denied access to a shower or other intimate facility because of their age…

San Antonio added veterans as a protected class three years ago, the same time they extended their anti-discrimination laws to the LGBT community. City officials said they would be unable to enforce those protections if the bill becomes law.

House Speaker Joe Straus has publicly opposed the Senate bill, and his spokesman Jason Embry, when asked about the Simmons’ bill, said that the speaker’s position had not changed.

Major businesses and professional and amateur sports organizations have expressed concern that the Senate legislation is discriminatory. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has indicated it might pull the Final Four basketball tournament in 2018 out of San Antonio if Senate Bill 6 passes. Simmons’ bill is supposed to have a hearing in House State Affairs on Wednesday.

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    It is nice to see he finally came out of his stall and took a position.

    P.S. GREAT to see you.

    P.S.P.S. Simmons is supposed to have agreed to offer a substitute that limits the bill only to ordinances on who can use bathrooms. The original bill never used the word since it, as you note, had a much broader impact.

  • SpiritofPearl

    Privacy in bathrooms already exists.


    Who was it that said the Texas House was less likely to push “red meat” issues? I know it was somebody,(maybe JJ) but not me…..Today a House committee reported CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY that would allow any Texan over 21 without a felony to carry a gun without the need for a license, etc…..Tomorrow the State Affairs Committee, as noted in this post, takes up a version of the bathroom bill…and the bill to require burial of a fetus is also out of committee. The Doctor’s right to lie cannot be far behind.

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    • Jed

      so guns can go in bathrooms but some people can’t?

      • WUSRPH

        You need the gun to protect you from the hairy-legged men wearing skirts…..

  • R.G. Ratcliffe

    In this session red meat issues are difficult to avoid.

  • OkButFirstCoffee

    Transgender citizens MUST HAVE their OWN bathroom (a one at a time, not one with stalls) regardless of how they identify. Deal with it. A win-win situation.

    • BCinBCS

      A win-win solution except for the businesses who will have to find space and construct another restroom.

    • Jed

      that’s still discriminatory.

      either everyone has a personal bathroom, or everyone pees in a trough right next to the water cooler. those are the only two answers!

      • OkButFirstCoffee

        I appreciate your reasoning, however no one wants the transgender in THEIR bathroom (NIMBY). Ironically, it’s the answer – give them their own, then.
        This is not about accomodating, which is what people have been trying to do, it’s about stepping up to the plate and supporting them.

        • Jed

          “I appreciate your reasoning, however no one wants the transgender in THEIR bathroom (NIMBY). ”

          speak for yourself. i couldn’t care less who is in the stall next to me, and i don’t think i am alone (except when in that stall).

          “This is not about accomodating, which is what people have been trying to do, it’s about stepping up to the plate and supporting them.”

          you are offering “support” that the people you are “supporting” would perceive as discrimination. with support like that, you could be a redskins fan.


    ““The Republican Party became the majority party in Texas because it was right of center and as George W. Bush described it, ‘compassionate conservatives,’” said Austin lawyer Hector De Leon, co-chairman of the business-oriented Associated Republicans of Texas. “Somewhere between the 1990s and today we lost that notion of compassion, and we became focused on issues that divide rather than unite people.”

    Doesn’t that period of time somewhat fit with the rise of Dan Patrick from sports jockey to radio demagogue to state senator and finally to lt. governor?

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    • Gtmogal

      Surely you are not implying that Patrick and his cronies are bigots…….

  • SpiritofPearl

    Why does the Texas GOP consistently attempt to overturn local control?

    • anonyfool

      This is happening around the country where legislatures dominated by rural membership muzzle the ability of urban areas to make laws for their own citizens. Fear and bigotry rule is a can’t lose proposition if one runs for the state legislature in rural America. The 2010 gerrymandering that resulted in Democrats winning the majority of votes for state legislatures and the minority of seats happened across the country.

  • dave in texas

    “Who’s going to be left for us to discriminate against if they won’t let us discriminate against transgender folk? They’ve already taken away African Americans, Hispanics, and gays. If they take away transgender people, that just leaves women and Muslims for us to discriminate against, and that’s not nearly enough targets. Won’t somebody please think about the bigots?”

  • Wurty

    Replace the urinals with stalls. Make the bathrooms unisex.

    • SpiritofPearl

      All stalls with one common area for hand washing (which men seldom do anyway) . . .

      • Jed

        “hand washing (which men seldom do anyway) ”

        how do you know?

        • BCinBCS

          Exactly what I was going to ask.

        • SpiritofPearl

          I’m a clinical laboratory scientist.


    Back to state government issues.
    * Has anyone heard anything about when the Attorney General is going to respond to the Senate’s request for his opinion on whether the accounting trick it wants to use to “balance” (SIC,SIC, SIC) its version of the budget is constitutional? The conferees do not need an immediate answer as they have plenty of differences in individual spending items to “adjust”…but they will have to know before they can wrap up their work since Paxton’s answer could determine how the bill is financed and whether the Comptroller can certify it.
    * Anybody have any predictions on whether the House will actually vote to approve “Constitutional Carry” of whether the Calendar Committee will sit on the bill until it is too late to pass either the House or the Senate?
    *What about the “bathroom bill”? Can the speaker live with the toned-down version the House committee considered on Wednesday until early Thursday that is similar to the version the NCAA bought off in North Carolina?
    *What about the “blue tarp” bill making it harder to collect on windstorm damages? JJ has been following it closely and he may have some news.
    *What about the THREE rulings now that Texas has “DELIBERATELY” discriminated against Hispanics/Blacks, etc. in redistricting and voting laws? Any chance the 5th Circuit will buy those findings? (If they do Texas could be forced back under the stricter controls of the Voting Rights Act.)
    Just a few items on the agenda during the remaining 38 days of the session……
    P.S. Would anyone like to see a posting of the various deadlines of action that, in effect, make the time the legislature has to finish its work less than that 38 days?

    • WUSRPH

      We have the reply from the Atty General. He sided with the Senate.

      “After noting that the Texas Constitution requires the comptroller to put up to $2.5 billion from sales taxes into the state highway fund, Paxton suggested a judge would overlook a small delay in that transfer.

      “If the comptroller is unable to calculate the specific amount of the required deposit before the end of the fiscal year, a court would likely conclude that doing so as soon as possible thereafter would result in acceptable, substantial compliance with the constitution provision,” he wrote. (Texas Tribune)

      That leaves the House and Senate right where they were with the House planning to tap the Rainy Day Fund to “balance” the budget and the Senate using an accounting trick. Since not tapping the fund will allow the total cost of the bill to be smaller, I expect that at the end the Senate will win out on this point.

      • WUSRPH

        Speaking of redistricting:

        An important article on the Wisconsin “political gerrymandering” case that is now on its way to the SCOTUS. If this decision is upheld it might end the kind of practice we saw here in Travis County were a reliable Democratic base was split up among multiple Senate and US House districts for political reasons alone. The result was to effectively deny Democrats a chance to be represented by someone they chose. The SCOTUS has said such political gerrymandering is unconstitutional but it also has said it has yet to see a provable case..Many observers think the Wisconsin case may finally be the one……



    Did anyone remember that this is San Jacinto Day? It used to be almost as important in celebration terms as March 2nd and 6th but not so much in recent years.


    If anyone wants to know the “end of session” deadlines that will limit what and when the House and Senate can do things over the next 38 day go to this site:




    It will take you to a chart of the month of May that I designed back in 1993. It would look a lot better if I had not been limited to doing it on a Mac without knowing how to fancy up the display but it is still serviceable.

    • BCinBCS

      The display is fine. Thanks for the effort.


    I have never had much good to say about Gov. Abbott but, at least, I had this impression that he was a competent lawyer….BUT an item in the Texas Tribune has made me rethink my opinion of his legal skills….All it does is point out that Texas has consistently lost the redistricting cases, all of which has been found to have deliberately discriminated against Hispanics and blacks……and then point out who was the attorney advising the Legislature that the bills were totally constitutional—-Gregg Abbott when he was attorney general. Perhaps that explains why he so badly wants to change the US Constitution.