Texas’ right-wing lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, had a number of “priorities” for the 88th Texas Legislature, which ends next Monday, May 29. But, “an untold number of bills” — including several that addressed some of Patrick’s priorities — aren’t going anywhere this year, at least not in regular session, because members of the House of Representatives wanted the weekend off.
As The Texas Tribune reports, “The Texas House on Saturday was required to advance bills through the committee phase by midnight. However, the House opted to not meet this weekend.”
The bills that died
Among those bills that died at midnight on Saturday, May 27, were two targeting the LGBTQ community: Senate Bills 1601 and 1029. SB 1601, the Tribune explains, would have barred libraries from receiving any public money the year following any events in which drag performers read to kids. Supporters, of course, claimed they were trying to protect kids from being exposed to “sexual content,” although none of them have ever actually, satisfactorily explained what there is about Cassie Nova reading Goodnight Moon that is “sexual content,” other than to clutch their pearls and insist that anything drag is, “inherently and nefariously sexual regardless of the content or audience.” (From Texas Tribune)
Opponents of this bill and others like it continue to point out that drag queen story hours are intended to promote literacy and “drag queens don’t include any sexually oriented material when performing in front of children in a library.” (Again, from Texas Tribune)
SB 1029 would have made “physicians and health insurers financially liable for patients’ lifetime medical costs resulting from complications of transition-related care — even if the providers aren’t at fault.”
Witnesses in favor of SB 1029 were individuals who had “de-transitioned” and told lawmakers how hard it had been for them to find health care professionals to help them through their de-transition process. Opponents pointed out the obvious: SB 1029 would scare health care professionals and insurers away from helping transgender patients with gender-affirming care and put their health at risk.
Texas lawmakers have already endangered countless transgender minors by passing SB 14, which prohibits gender-affirming care for anyone under 18. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has, in the last couple of weeks, ramped up his war on trans Texans but opening investigations into Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for performing “illegal” gender-affirming care for minors.
(NOTICE: Gender-affirming care for trans minors is not yet illegal in Texas. Greg Abbott has not yet signed SB14, and even when he does, it won’t take effect until Sept. 1. And Ken Paxton doesn’t get to make something illegal just because he says so.)
Don’t let your guard down!
Even though those bills technically died over the weekend, Republicans in the Senate could still manage to resurrect them or any of the others via last-minute amendments to measures still under consideration.
And of course, SB 12 — which might or might not still be able to be used to make certain drag performances illegal — is still alive. The House passed the committee substitute version — which no longer includes language specifically banning drag performances in front of anyone under 18 but, some say, could still be used to target businesses and individuals — on third reading today (Monday, May 22). That sends the bill back to the Senate, which can either approve the committee substitute version, amend it to re-insert drag-specific language and thus send it to conference committee, or just let the bill die without taking action.
— Tammye Nash