October 2017 Church & State - October 2017

Voucher Bill, Anti-Transgender Bathroom Ban Defeated During Texas’ Special Legislative Session

  AU admin

The Texas Legislature in mid-August closed the 30-day special summer session called by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) without passing two bills on Abbott’s agenda that would have threatened religious freedom: a private school voucher bill and an anti-transgender bathroom ban.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R), leader of the state Senate, made passing both a priority, and the Senate followed his lead by quickly approving both bills this summer. But the Texas House of Representatives, led by Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), continued to be a bulwark against the bills, ensuring neither passed before the special session adjourned.

Because the Texas legislature only meets every other year, public education and transgender Texans may be safe from these threats until 2019, but there’s nothing stopping Abbott from calling another special session. That didn’t sound like an imminent threat: The Texas Tribune reported that Abbott was pleased with the accomplishments of the summer session, despite lawmakers passing less than half of the items on his agenda.

Americans United wrote to legislators and rallied supporters to contact their representatives in opposition to the voucher scheme.

AU also wrote legislators to dispel myths about bills that would discriminate against transgender people by prohibiting them from using public bathrooms that align with their gender identity. 

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