WASHINGTON – Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced today that he is calling a special legislative session to tackle an inordinate agenda — including HB 2899, discriminatory legislation that bans municipalities across the state from passing nondiscrimination measures protecting the safety of transgender people in restrooms. The bill also would roll back existing protections in at least five Texas cities. Late last month, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick demanded Abbott call a special session to advance Patrick’s anti-business, anti-transgender agenda – and today’s announcement signifies Abbott’s obedience.
“Governor Abbott will now assume responsibility for the consequences of this special session. We know passage of HB 2899 would be bad not just for the scores of transgender Texans whose lives will be made more difficult and more dangerous, but for all the hardworking Texans who stand to suffer from the economic losses this action invites,” said Kasey Suffredini, Acting CEO & President of Strategy for Freedom for All Americans. “Dan Patrick’s anti-business, anti-transgender agenda stalled for a reason – because many lawmakers understood that legislation like this was dangerous, mean-spirited and ultimately bad for business. In giving this non-issue such a prominent platform, Governor Abbott is signaling that he is perfectly comfortable ceding his most basic governing responsibilities to his belligerent lieutenant governor.”
It’s estimated that the special session, which begins July 18th and will run for 30 days, will cost Texas taxpayers about $1 million. Abbott is including 20 items on the call – a tall order for a time-limited session. The first order of business will be to move a sunset bill, which is related to the funding and administration of some state agencies.
Abbott ordered the special session despite vehement public and private opposition from the business community, including some major tech companies with presences in the Lone Star State. Last month, CEOs from 14 major companies – including Facebook, Apple, and Amazon – urged Abbott to reject discriminatory legislation. The business leaders warned Abbott that anti-LGBT bills would hurt Texas’ reputation and their ability to attract and retain top talent; they also pressed that “Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country.”
“Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott are demonstrating an unprecedented and deeply disturbing commitment to advancing legislation that imperils the safety of transgender Texans, but this fight is far from over,” added Suffredini. “We’ll continue working with our partners at Equality Texas and the Texas Association of Business to defeat discriminatory proposals and send a message that anti-LGBT legislation is one of the most irresponsible actions lawmakers could take at this time.”
Governor Abbott did not take any questions from press after announcing his agenda for the upcoming special session.
Summoning lawmakers back to Austin in the middle of the summer for a costly special session isn’t the only action Abbott is taking to advance Dan Patrick’s anti-LGBT agenda – the governor also could soon sign HB 3859 into a law, a measure which would legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, same-sex couples, single parents and others in the adoption process.
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide.