LEGE UPDATE: Anti-gay Rep. Ken Paxton to seek Florence Shapiro’s State Senate seat in Plano

Sen. Florence Shapiro

State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, announced Monday that she will not seek re-election in 2012. Shapiro, who has served in theSenate since 1993, told the Texas Tribune that she is in  final negotiations for a job with a Texas-based education company.

Shapiro currently serves as chair of the Senate education committee, a crucial bottleneck for legislation dealing with anti-bullying efforts in Texas. Her support of both HB 1942 (the “super” anti-bullying bill) and HB 1386 (teen suicide prevention) during the 82nd regular legislative session this spring was crucial to both bills passing. Shapiro also voted in favor of legislation by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, that made the Texas HIV Medication Advisory Committee statutorily permanent.

Historically Shapiro’s support of the LGBT community has been limited to bills that don’t explicitly acknowledge the existence of LGBT people (for example, the two anti-bullying bills mentioned above). In 2001, when the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act was debated in the Texas Senate, Shapiro offered an amendment that would have rewritten the legislation to remove an enumerated list that included “sexual preference.”  The amendment failed.  When the Senate finally voted on the bill, with the enumerated list intact, Shapiro was one of 10 senators who opposed it. Shapiro also supported both the 2003 “Texas Defense of Marriage Act” and the 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage equality in Texas.

—  admin