Road to passage for Texas 'bathroom bill' getting far harder

Road to passage for Texas 'bathroom bill' getting far harder

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The path for Texas to enact its version of a North Carolina-style bathroom bill is poised to get far tougher as the Republican-controlled state House closed on a key midnight deadline Thursday to approve legislation.

A proposal mandating transgender Texans to use public restrooms according to their birth certificate gender sailed through the Texas Senate weeks ago, but a similar measure that bans schools and local communities from passing ordinances to protect LGBT rights has been bottled up in the House. That's despite Republican Gov. Greg Abbott urging fellow members of his party to support it and even calling pastors at evangelical churches around the state to increase public pressure.

Outnumbered House Democrats have been using tactics to delay a vote on this and other hot-button issues since late last week. House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican who sees the bill as bad for business, hasn't intervened.

Top firms and lobbyists have opposed it. Many top Hollywood actors and music stars have suggested state boycotts, and the NFL and NBA have warned about canceling future Texas events if it passes.

Any bill not approved by midnight dies in its current form but could still live on as a proposed change to a related bill that's already advancing. Efforts could also be made to revive what the Senate already passed, though so far it's been a non-starter in the House.

Rep. Ron Simmons, who has been the issue's top House champion, said supporters will look to attach public bathroom restrictions that at least extend to public schools onto educational legislation, even if more widespread bans fizzle.

"I think the likelihood of something getting passed this session as it relates to schools is pretty good," said Simmons, a Republican from Carrollton in suburban Dallas. "We're looking for opportunities to amend to other bills that would allow us to be able to protect the school scenario, which is where our number one concern is."

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