Shameful: Texas Governor Greg Abbott Calls Special Session, Will Include Discussion on Anti-Transgender Bills

By Adam Polaski • June 6, 2017 • 4:21 pm

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced today that he is calling a special legislative session to tackle an inordinate agenda – including HB 2899, discriminatory legislation that bans municipalities across the state from passing nondiscrimination measures protecting the safety of transgender people in restrooms. The bill also would roll back existing protections in at least five Texas cities. Late last month, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick demanded Abbott call a special session to advance Patrick’s anti-business, anti-transgender agenda – and today’s announcement signifies Abbott’s obedience. 

It’s estimated that the special session, which begins July 18 and will run for 30 days, will cost Texas taxpayers about $1 million. Abbott is including 20 items on the call – a tall order for a time-limited session. The first order of business will be to move a sunset bill, which is related to the funding and administration of some state agencies. 

Kasey Suffredini, Acting CEO & President of Strategy for Freedom for All Americans, said today:

“Governor Abbott will now assume responsibility for the consequences of this special session. We know passage of HB 2899 would be bad not just for the scores of transgender Texans whose lives will be made more difficult and more dangerous, but for all the hardworking Texans who stand to suffer from the economic losses this action invites. Dan Patrick’s anti-business, anti-transgender agenda stalled for a reason – because many lawmakers understood that legislation like this was dangerous, mean-spirited and ultimately bad for business. In giving this non-issue such a prominent platform, Governor Abbott is signaling that he is perfectly comfortable ceding his most basic governing responsibilities to his belligerent lieutenant governor.”

Suffredini added: “Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott are demonstrating an unprecedented and deeply disturbing commitment to advancing legislation that imperils the safety of transgender Texans, but this fight is far from over. We’ll continue working with our partners at Equality Texas and the Texas Association of Business to defeat discriminatory proposals and send a message that anti-LGBT legislation is one of the most irresponsible actions lawmakers could take at this time.”

Abbott ordered the special session despite vehement public and private opposition from the business community, including some major tech companies with presences in the Lone Star State. Last month, CEOs from 14 major companies – including Facebook, Apple, and Amazon – urged Abbott to reject discriminatory legislation. The business leaders warned Abbott that anti-LGBT bills 6 would hurt Texas’ reputation and their ability to attract and retain top talent; they also pressed that “Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country.”

Chuck Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas, said today:

“On the heels of the recently-concluded 85th Legislative “Session of Oppression”, during which Texas lawmakers passed egregious laws targeting LGBTQ people, women, and immigrants, it is extremely disappointing that Governor Greg Abbott is calling legislators back to pass a transgender bathroom bill and letting the lt. governor push him around on a non-existent problem that is morally bankrupt and will cause billions of dollars of damage to our economy.”

Lou Weaver, Transgender Programs Coordinator for Equality Texas, added:

 “Transgender Texans, like all Texans, need to use public restrooms without fear for their safety or security.  Any bathroom bill will roll back decades-old policies and laws that ensure that transgender people have access to restrooms appropriate to their gender.  Every parent fears for the safety of their child.  The lt. governor is exploiting that fear to attack a vulnerable community, subjecting transgender children and adults to harm.  The laws are unenforceable without massive police intrusion on privacy rights and create an expensive liability for businesses.”

Summoning lawmakers back to Austin in the middle of the summer for a costly special session isn’t the only action Abbott is taking to advance Dan Patrick’s anti-LGBT agenda – the governor also could soon sign HB 3859 into a law, a measure which would legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, same-sex couples, single parents and others in the adoption process.

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