by Chris Johnson
April 14, 2017
In a sign the new law in North Carolina that replaced House Bill 2 may be exported to other states, the Texas legislature is set on Wednesday to consider anti-LGBT legislation that bears a striking resemblance to the North Carolina deal.
The bill, House Bill 2899, was introduced Friday by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) as a compromise proposal for lawmakers seeking to enact anti-LGBT legislation in Texas as the biennial legislative session in Texas winds down. The legislation is set for a hearing Wednesday in the House State Affairs Committee.
The measure would prohibit municipalities from enacting ordinances that would “protect a class of persons from discrimination” or reduce or expand the classes of persons protected from discrimination under state law. In effect, the proposal would bar cities from enacting ordinances barring anti-LGBT discrimination because Texas state law affords no protection based on sexual orientation or transgender status.
The proposal has explicit language stating city ordinances would become null and void if they enacted prior to the passage of the law. That would eliminate non-discrimination ordinances already in place in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Piano and San Antonio, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Index.
HB 2899 would take effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house as provided under the Texas Constitution. But if the legislature approves it by a simple majority, it would take effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
The law is proposed as alternative to anti-LGBT legislation already approved in the Senate, Senate Bill 6, which seems to have stalled out after House Speaker Joe Strauss said he opposed the bill and had no intention of bringing it up. That proposal would bar cities from enacting measures to bar discrimination against transgender people in restrooms and prohibit transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity in public spaces, such as schools and government buildings.