AUSTIN, Texas — With just ten days left in the 86th Texas Legislative Session, lawmakers are racing against deadlines to get bills to Governor Greg Abbott's desk.
Two of those deadlines impact the House of Representatives. Saturday, May 18 is the last day a House Committee can report out a Senate Bill for considerations. Tuesday, May 21 is the last day the House can initially vote on a Senate Bill.
With those deadlines looming, House committees voted out two hotly contested bills Friday.
At 8:40 a.m., the House Committee on State Affairs held a meeting in a small room on the third floor of the Capitol to discuss Senate Bill 1978 (SB1978), the "Save Chick-Fil-A Bill." Without hearing public testimony, the bill was voted out of committee.
SB1978 prohibits a governmental entity from taking adverse action against a person based on their affiliation with or donations to a religious organization. The bill got its nickname last month after the San Antonio City Council blocked Chick-Fil-A from opening a location in the airport due to its reported donations to organizations that protest gay marriage and other LGBTQ issues. Opponents argue the bill discriminates against LGBTQ Texans and prohibits the state and cities from doing its due diligence in vetting potential hires and appointees.
The Senate gave its final approval to the bill Thursday and it was reported to the House and assigned to a committee the same day.
The House version of the bill was previously killed in the House of Representatives.
The House Committee on Elections also took action Friday to advance a bill. While the House was on a short break, the committee met at the desk of the Committee Chair, Representative Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), on the House floor and voted out Senate Bill 9 (SB9) on party lines. SB9 creates criminal offenses, increases penalties and establishes new laws related to elections and registering to vote. Opponents say the bill will result in voter suppression.
Supporters of the bill argue it will strengthen the integrity of elections.
Both bills will have to be initially passed in the House by Tuesday, May 21 to have a chance at becoming law.
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