Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 71: Attack on Marriage, Bullies in Committee, Points of Order Explained

Today is the 71st day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House reconvenes at 10 am, the Senate at 11.

SB 723, by Tommy Williams (R- The Woodlands) will be heard in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee at 1:30 (or when the Senate gets out, if that's later). The bill would remove documentation of a court ordered "sex change" from the list of documents that can be used to prove identity when applying for a marriage license. (LQ's initial post on SB 723 HERE)

The family code's list of potential identifying documents is extremely long; everything from school records to prison ID cards. When the list was created last session the inclusion of court ordered "sex changes" was non-controversial, not even meriting debate. Attempting to remove it now is a simple act of spite and Williams' bill analysis makes it clear that his intention in filing this legislation is to outlaw marriage involving trans identified people in the State of Texas.

Please contact the members of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee and tell them to leave the law the way it is, vote NO on SB 723.

Chair Chris Harris 512-463-0109
Vice-Chair Jose Rodriguez 512-463-0129
John Carona 512-463-0116
Robert Duncan 512-463-0128
Mario Gallegos 512-463-0106
Joan Huffman 512-463-0117
Carlos Uresti 512-463-0119

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As LQ mentioned yesterday the Senate Education Committee will hear public testimony on SB 42, SB 205 & SB 242 this morning at 8:30 am. The three bills all address the issue of bullying in public schools. 79.2% of Texas voters support legislation that protects school children from bullying (including LGBT school children) according to a 2010 poll by Equality Texas. It is important that every member of the Senate Education Committee hear from Texans that bullying effects all children and the legislature has a responsibility to respond. I encourage everyone who cares about the safety of students to not only contact the members of the Senate Education committee but to contact your friends and families and encourage them to do the same.

Chair Florence Shapiro 512-463-0108
Vice-Chair Dan Patrick 512-463-0107
John Carona 512-463-0116
Wendy Davis 512-463-0110
Mario Gallegos 512-463-0106
Steve Ogden 512-463-0105
Kel Seliger 512-463-0131
Leticia Van de Putte 512-463-0126
Royce West 512-463-0123

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What I had anticipated to be a marathon session of the House yesterday turned about to be short stroll as voter suppression legislation (SB 14) was quickly removed from consideration after a "point of order". Points of order can be raised on a bill if the process by which it has been considered is not consistent with the Rules of the House (or Rules of the Senate in the Senate).

In the case of SB 14 a point of order was raised that the bill analysis included as part of the House committee report was inaccurate. House Rule 4, section 32 (12)(c) requires that committee reports include a section by section analysis that details, in plain language, what the bill will do. Because every bill has an analysis it is common for many legislators to read the analysis and never bother reading the actual bill. Recognizing that this creates a situation where the drafter of the committee report could purposefully misinform members about what the bill would do there is a long held tradition in the House of calling points of order for inaccurate analysis. SB 14 would allow a voter who was barred from the polls due to lack of photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and then provides 6 days for the voter to prove their identity, the bill analysis included in the committee report said 6 "business" days. Speaker Straus ruled that this made the analysis inaccurate and so sent the bill back to committee so that the committee report could be corrected.

The committee corrected the report yesterday afternoon and SB 14 has been placed back on the House schedule to be considered tomorrow.

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