Texas Senate votes again to advance ‘bathroom bill'

As part of Republican efforts to revive the controversial "bathroom bill," the Texas Senate on Tuesday gave initial approval to another version of the legislation.

The 21-10 vote — identical to the Senate’s March vote on a similar proposal — came after several amendments to the bill on the floor throughout an eight-hour debate during which Republicans once again espoused the need to pass the legislation for the sake of privacy in bathrooms while Democrats objected to its passage because of its discriminatory effect on an already vulnerable population.

Those arguments — echoed during 10 hours of public testimony last week — were unchanged from earlier this year, when the divisive issue first dominated the regular legislative session but stalled following a stalemate between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus over the issue. In calling state lawmakers back for a special session, Gov. Greg Abbott put bathroom restrictions on the agenda.

Senate Bill 3 by Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would regulate bathroom use in schools and buildings overseen by local governments, including cities and counties, based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate or other IDs issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The inclusion of those IDs was a significant change made to the legislation during floor debate that's helpful for transgender adults unable to change their birth certificates but will do little to enable transgender children to use school bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The legislation would also nix parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to allow transgender residents to use public bathrooms of their choice.

Unlike the Senate’s proposal from the regular session, the bill would not regulate bathroom use in state buildings and public universities or impose civil penalties for entities that violate the bathroom restrictions.

The Senate must still give the legislation a final OK before sending it to the House, where it's likely to face an icy reception by Straus, a staunch opponent of such legislation. That vote could come as early as Wednesday.

This article was originally published at TexasTribune.org.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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