Please, Texas Legislature, please literally get out of my private life

11053437_10203727216931427_7578301496571722454_oAllow me to vent.

Oh my God, y’all.

I can’t stand it anymore.

The Texas Legislature won’t get out of my private life.

No, really.

I mean, I can’t get away from them.

Just a few weeks ago I went into the fucking grocery store and thought I saw Sen. Don Huffines. I get back to my apartment and see the damned Huffines car dealership logo on every other neighbor’s car.

When trying to escape the freshman senator’s clutches I drive past the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and think about Rep. J.D. Sheffield., an osteopath. As I crack open a beer, hoping to escape the freshman Dallas senator’s clutches, I then swear I see Sen. Bob Hall! (Well, OK, I’m bound to see him if I’m watching The Walking Dead.) Just last week, I said “Jane Nelson Mandela” instead of “Nelson Mandela.” Those two are NOT the same, folks. I see Dennis Bonnen in the wildest of places – well, ok, I really don’t have a problem with that.

Sometimes in all my insomnia and delirium, I ask myself “what would Lois Kolkhorst do?”

To which I imagine she’ll say, “Have a life.”

Sine die, folks.

—  James Russell

Texas House committees and pro-LGBT bills

DANIEL WILLIAMS  |  Legislative Queery

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has finally announced the committee assignments for the 82nd Texas House. As I predicted last month the partisan breakdown of the committee chairs roughly reflects the distribution of party control in the House with 11 Democratic chairs and 25 Republicans (not including the four select and joint committee chairs, all Republicans).

House committees that queer Texans will want to watch very carefully:

Public Education — Will get the anti-bullying bills. Chairman Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, scheduled the hearing for HB 1323 (last session’s anti-bullying bill) very late last session, but he did schedule a hearing and the committee eventually voted to send the bill to the floor for a vote of the whole House. Unfortunately, time ran out last session (more info on HB 1323 is here). Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, whose HB 224 is expected to be the water bearer for anti-bullying bills, is on the committee this session.

Public Health – Will get HB 405, which would allow same-sex parents to get accurate birth certificates for their children. Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Austin, was visibly moved by testimony last session on this bill. Let’s hope that causes her to schedule it for an early hearing.

Criminal Jurisprudence – Will get HB 604, the repeal of Texas’s unconstitutional sodomy law and HB 172, the study of the effectiveness of the Texas Hate Crimes Act. Chairman Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, has a solid record of voting in the best interest of queer Texans, but repealing the unconstitutional sodomy law, however common-sense, is going to be a hard sell. Plus, with virulent homophobes Wayne Christian, Bill Zedler and Will Hartnett on the committee, it seems unlikely that common sense will beat out bigotry. The Hate Crimes study has a better chance. It made it out of committee last session, but it’s hard to predict what will happen this session.

Insurance – Will get HB 208 prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Chairman John Smithee, R-Amarillo, hasn’t let this bill through in past sessions, and I’d be shocked if he lets it through this session. Smithee takes every chance he can get to hurt queer Texans. He’s not likely to pass this chance up, either.

State Affairs – Will get HB 665, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This bill, or a version of it, has been filed every session for over a decade, and it never gets a hearing. While new Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, is an immense improvement over old Chairman Burt Solomons, it’s unlikely that this bill will go anywhere.

Now that we have committees, bills are going to start moving left and right. The 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature is finally getting going!

—  admin