House Speaker Joe Straus has referred what has been described by its author as a “satirical bill” to committee while leaving important reforms to languish on his desk. His decision to refer House Bill 4260 while refusing to allow members to move forward on the Texas Privacy Act is drawing criticism from conservatives.
According to the bill’s author, far-left Democrat State Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston, HB 4260 is intended to satirize pro-life laws that prevent women from obtaining abortions and ensure those who do are more informed.
If passed (it won’t be), Farrar says her bill would fine men $100 for masturbating and create a required booklet for men with medical information related to the benefits and concerns of a man seeking a vasectomy, a prescription for erectile dysfunction, or a colonoscopy. The bill is meant to somehow parody the “Woman’s Right to Know” booklet currently given to women seeking an abortion.
Farrar’s publicity stunt received headlines nationwide, but that’s where it should have ended. Instead Straus has sent the bill to the State Affairs Committee, which usually handles bills related to major state policy. Meanwhile, he is refusing to refer conservative reforms like Senate Bill 6, also known as Texas Privacy Act, a point that State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) made on the House floor Monday.
Straus’ refusal to refer the Texas Privacy Act is a political one given his repeated public statements that he opposes the bill and would like to see it die. The easiest way for that to happen is for it to be delayed until the clock is closer to the deadline—something Straus admitted in an interview with CBS DFW in March.
“Does that mean you don’t support the ‘Bathroom Bill?’” the interviewer asks.
“I don’t support it…but that bill is in the State Affairs Committee and this process was built to make to make it difficult to pass bills—not easy to pass them,” Straus responds.
Straus’ response included two truths and a lie. The factual statements are that he opposes the legislation and the process is designed to kill bills rather than pass them – a component he’s all too familiar with – but the remark on the bill being in State Affairs is fundamentally untrue.
When the interview was conducted, SB 6 was sitting on his desk waiting to be referred, and almost three weeks later it’s still there, collecting dust with other conservative priorities. But citizens are fooling themselves if they think simply getting the Texas Privacy Act referred to committee will ensure that it passes.
The State Affairs Committee is headed by Straus’ lead hatchet-man, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), who has turned the committee into a graveyard for conservative legislation and has already signaled that he will kill SB 6 should it come to his committee.