The second week of the Special Session is closing out with the pace of work picking up on the House side. But action remains on hold for one of the most controversial items under the dome; the bathroom bill.
House members wasted no time wrapping up work on their sunset legislation.
The Thursday morning vote on HB2, which funds several state boards, was a unifying moment during the Special Session. With that done, the House started whittling away at one of the other items in the Governor’s Call, legislation to overrule local tree ordinances.
For Governor Greg Abbott, and members who advocate small government, the matter is a private property rights issue. HB 7 gives homeowners a break on fees- if they replant a tree -to replace what’s removed.
But it does not abolish tree ordinances. "And I understand this is a worked out deal with the cities, but I've had enough of the cities telling people what they can and can’t do with their daily lives,” said Sherman Republican Larry Phillips.
Despite that objection, HB 7 won approval. There is still another tree ordinance clipping bill.
Travis County Republican Paul Workman has a more homeowner friendly proposal.
He is trying to convince other lawmakers his plan is more compatible with a Senate version which passed Wednesday. He is trying to get it voted out of committee.
The lingering unanswered question of the Special Session continues to be whether or not legislation regulating access to restrooms will make it to the Governor's desk. The Senate has passed its version, but the controversial issue remains in limbo on the House side. "The Will of the House is not blocking and slowing the system down so this legislation doesn't get heard,” said State Rep Terry Tinderholt.
The Republican from Arlington, who is a member of the Conservative Freedom Caucus, believes regulating access to Bathrooms, based on a person’s gender at birth, deserves some type of vote.
"I just want them to have a hearing; I want the Committee Chairman to step up to the plate, hear these Bills and do what’s right. And in that absence I will use the rules every single day to go to the back mic and force these Bills to at least get a hearing.
The House version of the bathroom bill, HB 46, is in the House State Affairs committee.
Chairman Byron Cook ( R ) Corsicana, declined to say if has selected a date for a hearing.
“I don’t think it’s an appropriate time to make a decision on that."
Cook did tell FOX 7 he considers the use of school locker rooms best resolved by school boards. That point he believes was covered in hearings held during the Regular Session. If there is another Hearing, Cook said he wants members of the business community to step up and testify.
"Texas needs to understand how this would affect our economy, very important,” said Rep. Cook.
Members of the Freedom Caucus say - if the bathroom bill doesn't get a house hearing - let alone a floor vote- they will urge Governor Greg Abbott to call another Special Session.