Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 101: It's Still Yesterday in the Senate, Coleman Removes Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression from Asher's Law

Today is the 101st day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House is recessed until 8:00 am, the Senate until 9:00 am. That both houses are "recessed" is interesting, it means than, technically, when they reconvene they will still be on the previous legislative day.

When the Senate recessed yesterday neither SB 205 by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), which would clarify and expand the student codes of conduct that school districts must adopt (Read LQ's analysis of SB 205); nor SB 723, Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) which would effectively ban marriage between two people of the opposite sex if one of the partners is transgender (Read LQ's explanation of SB 723) had reached the floor. Since the Senate will be on the same legislative day when they return from their recess this morning they could, potentially, bring up those two bills.

HB 1386 (Asher's Law) by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) was heard in the House Public Health Committee last night; well, technically this morning. The Public Health Committee hearing went into the wee small hours of the morning, and by the time Coleman's bill was brought up it was 4:10 am. Coleman told the committee that he was working on a "committee substitute" which was not yet available. The filed version of HB 1386 requires that school districts not discriminate against students on the basis of "the actual or perceived ethnicity, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin of the employee, student, or student's parent." Coleman indicated that his committee substitute would remove the enumerated list from the non-discrimination policy in his bill, but did not indicate if the entire non-discrimination requirement would be removed. LQ is working to get a copy of the committee substitute.

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