Though legislation to protect women’s privacy passed the Texas Senate this week, it appears to be dead-on-arrival in the House with prominent lawmakers opposing and downplaying the issue.
A major priority for conservatives this session, SB 6 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) would limit the use of bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in government buildings to biological sex and conventional norms.
Known as the Texas Privacy Act, the legislation would also pre-empt local ordinances seeking to dictate the bathroom policies of private businesses such as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which voters trashed in a ballot referendum.
The legislation passed the Texas Senate on Wednesday with unanimous support from Senate Republicans and Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, and now sits on House Speaker Joe Straus’ desk waiting to be referred to the State Affairs Committee chaired by State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).
The destination isn’t exactly comforting for conservatives; rather, it’s outright concerning.
Ever since he was appointed to chair the powerful committee, Cook has served as the hatchet-man for the Democrat coalition governing the Texas House, and has butchered the vast majority of conservative legislation that comes through his committee.
As a result, State Affairs is less of a committee and more of a cemetery for conservative priorities like legislation to end sanctuary cities, protect Texans’ First Amendment rights, and defend the unborn; in fact, State Affairs has been known to pass legislation to provide illegal immigrants with drivers’ licenses and attack free speech.
Speaking to the Dallas Morning News last week, Cook already started downplaying and discrediting the efforts to pass SB 6 this session.
“In all the years I’ve been on (the House Committee on) State Affairs, we’ve never seen an issue that would indicate there’s a need to address a bathroom bill,” said Cook. “There has been no evidence of a problem.”
Cook’s remarks are nothing new for conservatives. For years they’ve recognized the House’s strategy to deal with conservative legislation: delay as long as possible, destroy as much as possible, and dilute what still survives.
A failure to pass SB 6 would be an indictment on every Republican member of the Texas House. Early in the session, House members voted unanimously to confirm Straus and his leadership team to their posts knowing they would be firmly opposed to passing conservative legislation.
Citizens should demand lawmakers pass this legislation and other conservative reforms, and be prepared to hold them accountable if they don’t.