Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recap of the First Day of Filing

Yesterday was the first day to file bills in the Texas legislature. These bills represent the highest legislative priorities for the officials who filed them. There were 156 bills and 1 concurrent resolution filed in the Senate and 198 bills filed in the House. I haven't yet read through all of the legislation but here are some highlights from today:

SB 42 - allow victims of cyber-bullying to be transferred to other classes or campuses
HB 16 - voter ID bill - bad for Texas, good for Trans community
HB 24 - allow cyber-bullies in alternative school
HB 130 - create a statewide bullying hotline
HB 169 - allow schools to force bullies into JROTC programs
HB170 - create a 300 foot safe zone around school campuses

Most legislation gets passed by being amended onto other bills, so it's important to look out for legislation that is on similar topics. Here are some bills that were filed that have the potential to be improved by adding queer friendly amendments.

SB 29 - would allow grad students at state schools to be eligible for health benefits. Currently state schools are prohibited from offering health benefits to the domestic partners of staff. This bill could be an opportunity for that legislation.

SCR 1 - teabagger nonsense about states rights. (SCR stands for Senate Concurant Resolution, in this case it won't accomplish anything or change any laws if passed, it's just an opportunity to pontificate) It goes on - at length - about the 2nd, 9th and 10th amendment. There is an opportunity, if this bill makes it to the floor, for someone to attempt to amend a reminder of the 16th amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law, specifically as it should apply to marriage equality and employment protections.

HB 22 - would require public schools to report how many non-citizen students they have. This is another one of the Debbie Riddle anti-immigrant bills. What's interesting is that it says that schools should report this information in a way that would not discriminate based on "race, color, disability, sex, religion, age, or national origin". There is an opportunity to add to this list "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity an Expression. The more times this enumerated list appears in the code the better.

HB 82 - revises the way that the state informs 18 year old men that they are required to register for selective service. The precise wording of the notice could be amended to also notify people of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Another interesting bill that some people may not recognize will benefit the queer community.

HB 38 - stiffens penalties for graffiti on certain structures - including community centers that provide medical, social, or educational programs. This would include most LGBT community centers and may be helpful in countering the hate graffiti that they often have to contend with.

There are many bills that still need to be read - we are seeking additional contributors to help us work through them please e-mail to volunteer.

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