|Sen. Leticia Van de Putte|
This is the first time that a bill to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression has been filed in the Senate.
SB 237 is identical to HB 238 by Rep. Mike Villarreal (D - San Antonio).
Why file the same exact bill twice, one in the House and once in the Senate?
Sets of identical, or nearly identical, bills filed in both the House and Senate are called "companions." Bills are filed in these sets because of a quirk in the way legislation is passed in the Texas legislature. The Texas Constitution requires that bills be "read" on three separate days in both the House and Senate before they become law. That doesn't mean that the whole bill is read, it just means that the bill is mentioned and that some action is taken.
So if a bill is introduced in the House (that means it starts with "HB" (for "House Bill")) its first "reading" is when the bill is sent to one of several dozen House committees for consideration. If the committee chooses to consider the bill they will hold a public hearing (when anybody can walk off the street and tell the committee what they think of the bill) and then, if they think the bill is a good idea, the committee can vote to "report favorably" on the bill, basically recommend that the entire House should vote on it. Bills that are reported favorably are then sent to one of several "calendar" committees that schedule the bill for its second "reading."
The legislature only meets for 140 days, and this process can take one to three months.