This week in your Legislative Update: Daniel tells us about a hearing on an anti-marriage bill and why the budget can be dangerous.
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Daniel with Equality Texas and this is the Legislative Update for
Friday, March 27, the 74th day of the Texas Legislature’s 140 day
On Monday families from all over Texas traveled to Austin for Family Advocacy Day at the capitol.
It was an amazing day and I’d like to thank our partners at the Handsome Father and PFLAG for help making it possible.
On Wednesday, the House State Affairs Committee heard HB 1745 by Cecil Bell.
bill would move the responsibility for the issuance of marriage
licenses from locally-elected county clerks to the Texas Secretary of
State, an appointed bureaucrat in Austin. The bill then allows, but not
requires, the Secretary of State to permit county clerks to issue
marriage licenses, but requires the Secretary of State to suspend the
issuances of all marriage licenses in a county if the clerk issues a
license to a same-gender couple.
That’s a whole new level of
bureaucracy, and it comes with a price tag of over a million dollars a
year to the state, according to the Legislative Budget board, plus up to
another $1.3 million dollars per county, according to the Texas
Association of County and District Clerks, plus who knows how many
million in the inevitable lawsuit that Attorney General Paxton will, I’m
sure, pursue defense of with gusto…
All to keep loving, committed couples from making a publically-accountable, legal commitment.
…your tax dollars at work…
hearing went very well – the committee heard from faith leaders,
parents, couples, grandparents, legal experts and county clerks – all
articulating why HB 1745 is a bad idea. The bill is currently “pending”
in committee – basically it’s sitting on a desk, waiting to be
considered. The committee would have to vote on it by May 11th for it to
continue on its way to become law.
We’ll continue to advocate on your behalf in the capitol every day until that deadline passes.
week, on Tuesday the House will take up HB 1. This is the bill that
will become the state’s budget for the next two years. The danger with
HB 1 comes in the form of amendments.
Now, the House has pretty
strict rules about the germaneness of amendments. You can’t just amend
anything to anything, and the Speaker of the House has pretty broad
discretion to determine if amendments are germane. So, for instance, a
bill that’s about creating an insurance program for bank deposits can’t
be amended to create funding to pay rewards for the capture of bank
robbers (at least not according to the ruling from Speaker Stephenson in
1933), but a bill to bill to change the drinking age can be amended to
better define the offense of selling alcohol to a minor (at least
according the Speaker Lewis in 1985).
The appropriations bill is
tricky, because it touches almost every aspect of state government, at
least the parts of state government that cost money. Since 1905, due to a
ruling by Speaker Seabury, it has been the practice of the House to
include contingencies to the funding mechanism. ie: spend the money this
way or we take away the money.
The risk here is that an amendment
could be attached that required that a state agency only spend money in a
way that discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
Amendments to the Appropriations Bill must be prefiled by
this Saturday at noon, so we should have a full list of amendments by
mid afternoon and the team here at Equality Texas will begin reading
carefully through all of them. I expect several hundred amendments to be
filed so it may take us awhile to weed out any bad ones – but be on the
lookout for an Action Alert on Saturday night in response.
is also the International Transgender Day of Visibility and we’re proud
to be part of a coalition that is bringing trans Texans to the capitol
to talk to lawmakers that day – register for the event on our website
under the “event calendar” tab. We’re also sponsoring a briefing on
trans issues for lawmakers and their staff next Thursday, April 2nd.
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