AUSTIN — After a brief respite, the bathroom wars are heating up again.
Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, is expected to introduce two bills in the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature that would regulate which public bathrooms transgender Texans, including schoolchildren, can use.
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The first bill, which will closely resemble his bill that failed during the regular session, will be a broad attempt to prohibit cities, counties and public school districts from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances involving multi-occupancy restrooms or locker rooms.
It is expected to allow exceptions for people already protected under state and federal anti-discrimination laws, which do not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
Simmons’ bill would effectively invalidate local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender people to use public restrooms that match their gender identity, as well as school district policies that make accommodations for transgender students.
That proposal, House Bill 2899, had 79 co-sponsors, all Republicans, before lawmakers left Austin in late May. A bill needs to win a simple majority, or 76 votes, on the House floor to pass.
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A second proposal Simmons plans to introduce would apply only to public school districts.
Simmons’s intentions were first reported by The Dallas Morning News, and he did not respond to the Houston Chronicle’s request for comment.
This month, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special session to begin July 18, calling lawmakers back to Austin for at least one month to tackle 20 items he said were not addressed to his satisfaction during the 140-day regular legislative session, which ended in May. Reauthorizing the Texas Medical Board and a handful of other agencies, which could close if lawmakers do not approve their continuation, topped Abbott’s list.
He also listed “privacy” as one of the topics, saying that “at a minimum” he wants a bill that applies to the use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools. In the regular session, Abbott praised Simmons’ bill