Texas 'bathroom bill' near collapse over GOP standoff

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday evening that the House will not negotiate with the Senate on a compromise for the proposed "bathroom bill".

Lawmakers were resolving last-minute issues ahead of Monday's final adjournment — but their focus was already shifting to whether Gov. Greg Abbott would order them back to work if a law, like the one that caused national uproar and costly boycotts when it was approved previous year in North Carolina, doesn't pass in Texas.

Patrick's call for a special session comes as the legislature is set to adjourn Monday.

"It's just going to have the state embroiled in litigation", Democratic state Sen.

Gonzales, the chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, urged the Senate to agree with House amendments to SB 1929, which included provisions needed to maintain the licenses of doctors. The two state leaders had asked legislators to prioritize automatic rollback elections for property taxes and a "bathroom bill" that would regulate which restrooms transgender Texans can use.

Without mentioning Trump by name, GOP House budget chairman John Zerwas said "we can not count on federal assistance at this time".

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick held a press conference Sunday afternoon with other members of the Texas Senate, calling out the Texas House for not completing their work during the normal session. Who should compromise in the future or in the event of a special session? On Friday, long-simmering tensions between Patrick and Straus boiled over tense remarks from each presiding officer that revealed they were at an impasse over the bathroom regulations.

Hollywood and music stars have threatened boycotts if Texas passes a law, and the National Football League and NBA have hinted that future events could be pulled out of the state - even though Houston hosted the last Super Bowl in February.

Top firms, chambers of commerce and lobbyists also have decried the bathroom bill in all forms as bad for business.

A Conference Committee will be appointed when the Legislature reconvenes in Extraordinary Session June 5. Five agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, will avoid closure if the Senate agrees to approve a House proposal pushing back their "sunset" date to 2021, they insist. "We're getting something for something", said the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, according to the Texas Tribune.

Patrick has promised to force a special session if he doesn't get his way, but it remains to be seen whether Gov. Greg Abbott will go along with that plan. So far, though, Abbott has given no indication he'll comply.

  • Larry Hoffman