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Texas “Bathroom Bill” Dead again as Special Session Concludes

Lawmakers in Texas failed to pass a controversial transgender bathroom bill as they wrapped up a special 30-day special session a day early on Tuesday.

This was the second attempt by the legislature to pass a North Carolina HB2-like law that would have forced transgender people to use restrooms in schools and public spaces according to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The measure failed to pass in the regular 2017 session that ended in May, which prompted the special 30-day session to be called by Gov. Greg Abbott. It was one of 20 special measures endorsed by Governor Abbott that ultimately failed to pass in the special session.

“I’m disappointed that all 20 items that I put on the agenda did not receive the up-or-down vote that I wanted,” Abbott said in an interview with KTRH Radio. In a separate interview with KFYO Radio host Chad Hasty, Abbott placed the blame on Republican Speaker Joe Straus. The Speaker made it very clear to me personally that he opposed the privacy bill and said he would never allow it to be voted on. There is absolutely no evidence he will ever change his mind on this issue,” Abbott said.

Sunset over the Texas Legislature (Photo: Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune)

The pressure came from all sides, as Democrats along with moderate Republicans clashed with Republican Conservatives over the issue. There was also added pressure from 51 Fortune 500 companies and law enforcement agencies in Texas’ major cities that opposed the measure. After the Texas Senate adjourned on Tuesday night, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he respected the business leaders of Texas; however he rejected their opinion on the issue. “They were wrong, all their data was wrong,” Patrick said while also promising the issue would not go away. “The people will demand it, the issue’s not going away,” the Lt. Governor said.

The next Texas legislative session will not be held again until the year 2019 as the parties now gear up for the 2018 primary season. Though he reserves the right to call another special session before then, Gov. Abbott has not indicated that he would do so and risk a 3rd failure to get a restroom bill passed. He is up for his first re-election bid in 2018.

The anti-transgender bathroom bill appears to be dead, for now.

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