Texas Democrats Take a Stand to Oppose Senate ‘Bathroom Bill’

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 16, 2017 10:48 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Senate has officially passed a controversial bill that would bar transgender people from using the public bathroom that matches their gender identity.

State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) authored the bill. She says the point of Senate Bill 6 is to protect women in private, intimate spaces like bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and dressing rooms.

But before the final vote on the legislation yesterday afternoon, Democrat after Democrat got up to say their piece – and argue that what the bill actually does is discriminate against transgender Texans.

“I strongly agree with supporters of Senate Bill 6 that men should not be in women’s restrooms, but I also believe that neither should transgender men,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). “Equally important, I strongly believe that transgender women should not be in men’s restrooms and that their using those facilities could put them in harm’s way.”

“We can and we should protect everyone’s privacy, including the privacy of transgender Texans,” said Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin). “It’s a false dichotomy to pit women’s rights against the rights of transgender people.”

The only Democrat to vote for the bill was Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville).

Ultimately the Senate voted 21-10 to approve the bill which now heads to the Texas House.

There, Republican leaders have indicated little interest in passing the legislation.

The bill also faces opposition from Texas businesses and corporations like Google and the NFL.

After passing the controversial “bathroom bill”, Texas State Senators got to work on another piece of legislation.

This time, they approved a bill that would ban the donation of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

Bill author Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) says he wants to eliminate any incentive for abortion. His bill would also prohibit abortions in late-term pregnancies.

“Regarding the prohibition of partial-birth abortion, the State of Texas does not have that currently in statute,” he says. “We are mirroring – we are prohibiting that in this bill and mirroring what is currently in federal statute.”

The bill passed with a vote of 24-6, sending it to the Texas House.

Wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Texas Panhandle could add up to $21 million worth of agricultural losses, according to early estimates from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The estimate doesn’t include damaged and destroyed equipment.