This week in your Legislative Update: Daniel tells us about Rep. Bell's contingency plan in case of the freedom to marry and two good bills gain momentum.
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Learn more about the legislation we're working on at the LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION CENTER.
Daniel with Equality Texas and this is the Legislative update for
Friday, April 10th, the 88th day of the Texas Legislature’s 140 day
On Wednesday, the House State Affairs Committee
heard public testimony on HB 4105 by Cecil Bell. The bill is yet another
attempt by Rep. Bell to forestall an anticipated freedom to marry
ruling by the Supreme Court. Bell offered a substitute to his originally
filed bill. The substitute places largely duplicative language in the
family code that forbids the state from recognizing a marriage between
two people of the same gender. OK – thus far all he’s done is soup up
the existing anti-marriage language and it’s doubtful that any future
court decision that strikes the existing language wouldn’t also strike
this new language.
Then the bill does something interesting… After
saying “no marriage licenses for loving, same-gender couples” it says
that IF a marriage license is given to a loving, same-gender couple that
the filing fee collected by the county clerk goes to, not the county
clerk as with all the other marriage license filing fees, but to the
state’s general fund. Well, that’s certainly an interesting way to grab
some more money for the state, but it’s hard to figure out how this
money grab squares with the oft-espoused philosophy of those in the lege
that the best government is local government.
So let me recap… HB
4105 says: “No marriages for loving same-gender couples – but if you DO
get married – the state gets the money.” Okay…
On Thursday, the House
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee passed HB 1704 by Rep.
Joe Deshotel – the bill would allow agreements between prospective
parents and surrogate mothers entered into in other states to be
enforceable by Texas courts. Because of the restrictiveness of Texas’
gestational agreements law this bill would make this method of growing a
family more accessible to LGBT families.
Next week, Rep. Sylvester
Turner’s homeless youth study bill, HB 679, is scheduled for
consideration on the House floor. The bill is on the schedule for
Wednesday, but, given the nature of the house, it’s likely it will
actually be considered later in the week. Up to 40% of homeless youth
are LGBT-identified. Rep. Turner’s bill would help the state better
understand the needs of this vulnerable population and identify untapped
funding sources to help them. You can use our ACTION CENTER to contact
your state representatives in support.
If you’re in Austin on Monday
and not already participating in Freedom Advocacy Day join us on the
North steps of the capitol at 12:30 for a Call to Action.
Tuesday is the deadline to donate to support Equality Texas’ lobbying
and advocacy work and have your donation matched, dollar for dollar, up
to $5,000. That’s a huge opportunity to support our work at the capitol
as we head into these last 52 days of the session. If you’ve ever
considered supporting our work, now is the time to do it! The link to
donate is in the episode notes.
On April 26 and 27th join us in Austin for the Trans Texas Caucus and Lobby Day.
On May 17th join us in San Antonio for the Spirit of Texas brunch, tickets available at spiritoftexasbrunch.org
Until next week, I’m Daniel with Equality Texas.