Senate Bathroom Bill Gets Amended

The senate reconvened Tuesday morning after long debates Monday night.

At Tuesday's discussion the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 3, also known as the “bathroom bill,” in an initial 21-10 vote, Tuesday.

"You are all here, you've haven't left, you've been here over night,” joked Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as he started the day.

That light moment didn't last long and neither did the effort to jump start the bathroom bill debate. Senator Kirk Watson hit the brakes.

"Members, that ain’t nowhere in the Call,” warned the Austin Democrat.

Watson argued SB3- was written outside of the scope of what the governor wanted them to do. Much of the focus on the controversial issue has been on the idea of using a person's gender at birth not identity to regulate bathroom access in schools and public buildings. But Watson pointed out the bill would also place gender restrictions on what type sports a student can play.

"There is really no good way to argue that participation in extracurricular activities, and  whether boys ought to play in girls’ sports, or visa versa, falls within a specific Call of the use of multi occupancy showers, locker rooms, rest rooms, and changing rooms,” said Senator Watson.

SB3 sponsor Senator Lois Kolkhorst argued the state constitution gives the legislature wiggle room in how to interpret a special session call.

"And I am giving specific details of legislation as it ties to Title IX, and facilities, because you cannot participate in sports without facilities,” said the Republican from Brenham.

A small group of supporters of SB3 stood silently in front of the Senate Chamber as the debate over whether or not to debate took the entire morning. Eventually, the objection by Senator Watson was overruled. A brief out burst from the gallery increased tension in the senate chamber. But as the protesters were escorted out the debate finally got underway

“Men don't belong in women's restrooms,” argued Senator Kolkhorst.

Questions about fear perceived and real were raised. State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D) El Paso, also challenged how claims of inappropriate conduct, were being used to justify a bathroom privacy act.

"Wouldn't you agree that it’s not the transgender community, that people testified has been engaging in these activities it’s just regular men,” said Rodriguez.

"There has been this accusation that transgender people are committing these crimes in these restrooms, that's not what it's about,” responded Kolkhorst.

Senator Rodriguez pressed his argument there are already laws in place to address bathroom voyeurism. Senator Kolkhorst indicated without the law criminal acts would increase.

“What Senate Bill 3 attempts to do is say no one can adopt a policy to create gender neutral bathrooms which would proliferate this."

A few amendments to SB3 were approved. One exempts children, the elderly and the disabled. Another changed involved expanding proof of gender beyond a birth certificate. Accepted forms of identification now included a State ID, Driver’s License and CHL.

It was also revealed that SB3 was drafted to be similar to the bathroom bill that cleared the house during the regular session. That's no guarantee the measure will make it to the governor's desk for his signature.