Rep. Ramon Ramero pulled a bill from consideration and wrote on Twitter, “I refuse to allow my bill to be hijacked by an amendment that would discriminate against the LGBT community.”
He sent the following to Dallas Voice’s James Russell:
AUSTIN, TX – Rep. Ramon Romero (D-Fort Worth) passed House Bill 1630 earlier this month out of the Texas House of Representatives seeking to end the practice of nondisclosure agreements shielding facts from public disclosure when taxpayer dollars are used to settle lawsuits against public officials and other state actors.
“I had strong bipartisan support for meaningful reform of nondisclosure agreements when taxpayer dollars are used to settle lawsuits. It was based on the time-honored premise of open government and transparency — that the public deserves to know how and why tax dollars are being spent,” said Rep. Romero.
The legislation passed 117 to 26 and went to the Texas Senate for consideration. Many measures aimed at curbing LGBT rights have been popular with conservative legislators during this session. When House Bill 1630 was brought up for consideration on the Senate floor, Republicans hijacked Rep. Romero’s legislation by adding an unrelated and non-germane amendment seeking to shield pastors from lawsuit discovery, legislation related to the City of Houston’s passage of a non-discrimination ordinance protecting the LGBT community.
Rep. Romero had a choice to make: Simply accept the amendment, risk its adoption in a conference committee negotiation, or refuse to allow the bill to move ahead with the controversial amendment attached. Romero promptly decided to send the bill back to the Senate with the hope that they would remove the amendment, thereby likely sealing the bill’s fate.
The bill failed to pass by the Wednesday midnight deadline and is now dead.
“I would rather have my legislation, which I believe to be important for transparency in governmental accountability, to die than be amended to possibly encourage discrimination against our LGBT community and other Texans,” said Romero. If this measure related to shielding pastors from discovery is something more than political posturing, it should pass on its own merit, said Romero. “Tea Party-inspired culture war politics have no place in our State, and I would never allow my name to be associated with it,” he said.