Blockers of TX privacy bill may pay political price

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Charlie Butts, Bob Kellogg (

TX Rep. Byron CookTexas lawmakers who stood in the way of protecting women and children from an invasion of privacy may learn that elections have consequences.

The bill, patterned after one in North Carolina, would have required people to use bathrooms, showers, and lockers rooms in public buildings and schools based on their born gender. The measure passed in the Senate but failed in the lower chamber.

Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz explains that while the vast majority of Texans want those protections in place for their women and children, their elected representatives – because of the actions of two Republican lawmakers – weren't even given a chance to vote on it. House Speaker Joe Strauss vigorously opposed it and State Affairs Committee chair Byron Cook (pictured above) refused to even grant a hearing during the special legislative session that just concluded. The same thing happened in the regular session.

Saenz says the political maneuver by Strauss and Cook that prevented a vote doesn't reflect the bill's popularity.

Saenz, Jonathan (Texas Values)

"If Byron Cook is going to shut their state legislators out of the process, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing lawsuits [or] other actions that are taken," he predicts, "because parents and children are not going to just stand by and allow these privacy violations to continue to happen in Texas just because Byron Cook wants to block legislation on this issue."

Saenz says as students start classes again, parents have the right to know how their school plans to deal with this issue.

"If school districts are not telling [parents] what's happening with their children and what's happening in intimate facilities [and] how they're handling this issue, they have a right to know what's happening on the public school property," says the attorney. "So they need to be ready to ask questions and stand up to anyone who tries to bully them on this issue."

Don't mess with Texas"And so with millions of school students going back to school, it's very disappointing and it's very concerning that their privacy protection does not exist," he laments, adding: "The fate of what may happen with incidents in public schools remains to be seen."

Also remaining to be seen is how the tactics of Cook and Straus will influence voters if the two Republicans run for office again. As Saenz points out, those who go to the polls will ultimately have the final say on that matter. Interestingly, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has stated that he intends to be involved in the next primaries.

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