Friday, April 17, 2015

Legislative Update for April 17: Just 45 days to go!

This week in your Legislative Update: With just 45 days to go a lot of things are happening at once: Birth Certificates, Homeless Youth, Transgender Bounties and Indiana-style Religious Liberty bills are just the highlights of this week's update.

Watch the latest Legislative Update:

Tell your lawmakers to support accurate birth certificates for all Texas children at

Tell your State Senator to support homeless youth at

Tell the members of the House State Affairs Committee to oppose HB 2801 and protect Trans students at

Learn more about the legislation we're working on at the LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION CENTER.

Thank you for your support! Together, we are Building a State of Equality in Texas.


I’m Daniel with Equality Texas and this is the Legislative Update for Friday, April 17th, the 95th day of the Texas Legislature’s 140 day regular session.
We’re getting towards the end of session with only 45 days left and this is when things get really busy!

On Monday, hundreds of Texans from around the state came to Austin for Freedom Advocacy Day! Many thanks to our partners at Texas Freedom network, GALA North Texas and HRC for making Freedom day such a success!

On Tuesday the Senate passed HB 1, which creates the budget for the state of Texas for the next two years. When the bill was in the house an amendment reduced funding for HIV/STD prevention programs by 3 million dollars, the Senate version of the bill put the money back.

On Wednesday, Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas gave an impassioned speech on the House floor about the need to equalize access to supplementary birth certificates for Texas kids with two moms or two dads. (check out the update from March 20th for more information on the bill). Following the speech, the chair of the powerful House State Affairs Committee, Byron Cook, expressed his support for the bill on the floor. That’s a major step forward for Anchia’s legislation and we’re hopeful it’s going to mean the bill will soon move.

Also on Wednesday we braced for two hearings on anti-LGBT bills. One, HB 3864 by Sanford, was heard in the House Juvenile Justice and Family Matters Committee. The bill creates an Indiana-style license to discriminate for child welfare service providers. Dozens of organizations representing child welfare professionals expressed their concerns about HB 3864 to the committee including the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Texans Cares for Children and CASA of Texas. The bill is currently pending in committee and could advance. We’ll be watching this bill carefully.

The other anti-LGBT bill we were prepared to fight in committee on Wednesday, HB 2801 by Pena, was pulled from consideration in the State Affairs Committee. HB 2801 encourages the harassment and bullying of transgender youth in our schools. The bill forces school districts to assume student’s biological sex and restrict access to gender-segregated spaces based on that assumption. Transgender students without supportive parents are without recourse under HB 2801. Non-transgender students may receive up to a $2000 bounty for reporting transgender students to the school district.
85% of Texas’ transgender students currently experience harassment at school. HB 2801 places a bounty on those students, creating state-sponsored bullying. Fortunately the bill was not heard on Wednesday, but capitol scuttlebutt is that it will likely be back next Wednesday. You can contact the members of the State Affairs Committee in opposition to HB 2801 using our ACTION CENTER, we’ll put the link in the show notes.

On Thursday the House passed HB 679. The bill would conduct a study of homeless youth in Texas, seeking information on the scope of the problem and potential untapped funding sources. Up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBT and this legislation would go a long way towards assisting this vulnerable population. The bill is now headed to the Senate. You can use our ACTION CENTER to contact your state Senator in support of the bill, we’ll put the link in the notes.

Next week: The House will likely choose not to accept the Senate’s changes to HB 1, the state budget, sending the bill into a conference committee composed of members of both chambers to hash out a compromise. It’s that conference committee that will set the final budget for HIV/STD prevention programs.

HB 2801, the bathroom bounty bill, will likely be back in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. We’re also hopeful that the State Affairs Committee will vote on HB 537, Rep. Anchia’s Supplementary Birth Certificate bill. You can contact your state rep in support of the bill using our ACTION CENTER (We’ll also put that link in the notes)

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