Friday, March 13, 2015

Legislative Update for March 13: DON'T PANIC

This week in your Legislative Update, Daniel warns that, despite the rash of bad bills at the last minute, we can beat back the onslaught if we work together.
Contact your lawmakers using our ACTION CENTER.

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

Join us for Family Advocacy Day on March 23. Register at https://hq-equalityfederation.salsala...

and Freedom Advocacy Day on April 13, register at https://hq-equalityfederation.salsala...



Daniel's Guide to the Legislature has this to say about the last week of bill filing:

“The last week of bill filing is the time when ideas that lawmakers feel they need to be considered in favor of in order to be re-elected, but never got around to actually drafting into bills, are at last filed. It is a period when members of the media are certain to get numerous "can you believe this crazy idea?" stories filed and roving bands of lobbyist can be seen roaming the capitol halls searching for offices to file their legislation until, at last, either some lawmaker takes pity on them, or they drop dead (see entry on lobbyist dietary needs: re: need to have bills filed to maintain metabolic functions).
On no account should one consider bills filed in the last week to be indicative of the actual temperament of the legislature or an indication of things to come.”

Under the entry for “Last Day of Bill filing: “If one should find oneself working in a legislative office on the last day of bill filing one would do well to lock the door and hunker down. A towel is useful in this instance for covering the office door to hide any indication that staff are inside. This is the one day of the session when staffers are required to buy their own lunch, as contact with desperate lobbyists during this period can be deadly.

The Encyclopedia Galactica has this to say about the last week of bill filing: “Oh you poor pathetic suckers. Ha Ha... Ha... Ha Ha Ha.”

We’ve had a lot of nasty legislation filed in the last week:
  • HB 2555 by Molly White tries to exempt Texas from the supremacy clause of the US Constitution so we can ignore court rulings recognizing the freedom to marry
  • HB 2801 by Pena puts a $2000 bounty on transgender public school students. Encouraging – with tax payer dollars – bullying and harassment should they dare to use the restroom
  • HB 2802 by Pena does the same thing – but this time with public restrooms and the $2000 is a liability for business owners.
  • HB 3567 by Sanford is a redundant law that says you can’t force a clergy person to perform or recognize a marriage they disagree with – the perform part is already law – the recognize part would be a problem if, say, the clergy person was also employed by the government or a hospital and got to randomly choose whose marriage was valid or not.
  • HB 3602 by Bell would allow anyone to ignore, not only laws, but also their employers policies – if those laws or policies require them to, you know, treat LGBT people fairly – so long as they use religion as the excuse for their discrimination.
  • HJR 125 by Krause is identical to HJR 55 by Villalba – the license to discriminate legislation. Krause filed it after Villalba said this week he wouldn’t pursue the policy.
  • SB 1155 by Hall tries to prevent municipalities from passing local non-discrimination ordinances.
  • Of course with the bad comes the good.
  • In addition to Villalba backing down on license to discriminate, Rep. Naishtat filed HB 2692 to empower the UT and A&M systems to adopt competitive “+1” benefit programs. Rep. Bernal filed HB 2860 to prohibit discrimination in Housing, Sen. Garcia filed SB 1064 to require DPS to accept ID that reflects a legal married name – even if that marriage isn’t recognized by the state of Texas and SB 1580 to study the issue of Youth Homelessness in Texas plus there’s some other good news coming later today (so keep your eyes open).

Look – the good bills are good and the bad bills are bad – and we have a lot of work ahead of us – but DON’T PANIC. We can beat this – but it’s going to take all of us working together to do it. So call your lawmakers – call the authors – use our ACTION CENTER to e-mail lawmakers – join us for

Family Day on March 23 and Freedom Day on April 13.

There are more of us in Texas that support equality than oppose it. If we work together we’ll prevail.

We have 80 days left in the legislative session and the next 60 days are vital.
Until next week, I’m Daniel Williams with Equality Texas.

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