A pair of Texas lawmakers who plan to carry so-called “bathroom bill” legislation into the special session set for July have the backing of Gov. Greg Abbott.
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, used the terms “privacy, safety and dignity” to describe the reasons for the bill, which would establish statewide guidelines to use a restroom that matches the gender on a person’s birth certificate. Kolkhorst filed the controversial original version of the bill back in January, but it failed to pass during the legislature’s regular session that ended in May.
“The overwhelming majority of Texans agree that privacy, safety and dignity must be preserved in public showers, locker rooms, dressing rooms and restrooms,” Kolkhorst said in a statement. “I thank Governor Abbott for his leadership and I look forward to crafting thoughtful privacy legislation with he and my fellow lawmakers on this sensitive issue.”
Abbott took a decidedly low-key approach in his support during the regular session for a solution to the bathroom bill, using the same argument for bathroom regulations as he posed in his support of the ridesharing rules bill. He also signaled he was willing to accept the House’s schools-only approach, a bill that did not win the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Senate during the regular session.
“To avoid a patch-work quilt of conflicting local regulations, Texas should establish a single statewide rule protecting the privacy of women and children,” Abbott said in a statement. “At a minimum, the legislature should pass a bill that protects the privacy of our children in public schools. I thank Sen. Kolkhorst and Rep. Simmons for their efforts to achieve that goal.”
Simmons said the issue of privacy must be addressed the same way in Houston as it is in Hutto, the same in Amarillo as it is in Austin. Texas Values, a group that describes itself as dedicated to faith, family and freedom in Texas, thanked Abbott for his position.
“We applaud Gov. Abbott for continuing to support an overwhelming majority of Texans. Keeping men and boys out of girls’ restrooms, showers and locker rooms is common sense, yet such violations of privacy are becoming a growing problem we never imagined Texans would be facing,” said Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values in a statement. “This problem must be solved before children head back to school to give parents and students the peace of mind they deserve.”
The special session opens July 18. Abbott said once a sunset bill makes its way out of the Senate, another 19 charges, including the bathroom bill, can be considered. A special session is 30 days but Abbott can call additional special sessions if needed.
Contributing writer Kimberly Reeves covers the Texas Legislature for the Business Journals.
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