The passage of not one but two anti-bullying bills, the final death of an anti-trans marriage bill and the failure of amendments designed to defund and ban campus LGBT resource centers made this, the final full week of the Texas Legislature’s 20-week regular session, perhaps the best legislative week for LGBT Texans ever.
Friday, May 20th dawned amid fears that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, would attempt to amend Senate Bill 1811 to include provisions designed to defund and ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities. SB 1811 is one of several “fiscal matters” bills that compliment the budget, further clarifying details of how appropriated funds should be used. Christian pre-filed two amendments the previous Thursday. The first was identical to an amendment he attached to the state budget that was later removed in the Senate. The amendment required schools that appropriated state funds for LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on “family and traditional values centers.” The second would prohibit any state funds from being spent on LGBT resource centers and would prevent them from being housed in campus buildings.
For seven hours the House considered amendment after amendment to SB 1811. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who carried the legislation in the House and chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee had promised both the Republican and Democratic caucuses that he would oppose all but 11 “perfecting” amendments to the bill. For the most part the House respected his opposition and the House rejected the vast majority of amendments. Late in the debate word came over that another of the fiscal matters bills, Senate Bill 1581, had passed the Senate. SB 1581 deals specifically with fiscal matters affecting secondary and higher education. Because of the late hour, and because most of the amendments to SB 1811 weren’t passing anyway, Simpson and several of his colleagues withdrew amendments dealing with education with the assumption that they could be amended to SB 1581 the next Monday, when it would be debated in the House.
Just after midnight on Saturday morning, SB 1811 passed the House, without the Christian amendments.