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How To Watch Today’s Bathroom Bill Proceedings

Say hello to the “bathroom bill” for the third time this year. A Senate committee will hold a hearing on the controversial legislation this morning.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, lays out Senate Bill 6, the so-called “bathroom bill,” at a State Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017.

Say hello to the “bathroom bill” for the third time this year — a proposal that has raised a divide between conservative and moderate Republicans and the rest of the Texas Legislature this year. The Senate, maintaining its full sprint just three days into the special session, quickly sent measures that would regulate restrooms for most transgender Texans to a committee that will hold a hearing on the legislation this morning. Here’s what you need to know:

Quick reminder: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s push for the legislation — and House Speaker Joe Straus’ opposition to it — is partially why the Legislature is back this summer in the first place. People protested, testified and cried over the bathroom bill during the regular session — one overnight hearing in the Senate saw more than 400 people testify. Tensions over the issue came to a boil between the House and Senate as the 140-day clock ran out, but the measure’s back and lawmakers have the next few weeks to decide whether to send a proposal to Abbott’s desk.

Today, testimony could last for hours. But the Senate panel considering the measures are mostly Republicans, and they’re expected to quickly approve the legislation and send it to the full Senate for a vote. This fight’s been years in the making and the opposition is mobilizing again: The National Episcopal Church urged the bill’s defeat and the Texas Association of Business announced a “seven-figure media buy” ahead of this morning’s Senate committee hearing. Watch a livestream of the hearing on our site, and follow Texas Tribune reporters Alexa Ura and Emma Platoff for updates.

There’s more happening in the Senate this weekend — like, a 13 meetings in three days type of thing. A Senate panel is considering a slew of local control legislation on Saturday — including efforts to preempt local rules on tree regulations and texting-while-driving — and other committees will later take up local spending limits, a state spending cap, property tax cap measures and teacher raises and benefits, among other things. On Sunday, more Senate hearings will address mail-in ballot fraud, municipal annexation reform and the union dues bill.


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