In part inspired by one of President Joe Biden’s executive orders, House Bill (HB) 25 by state Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) is just one of several bills in the legislature meant to keep biological males who identify as transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports. The state House is set to vote on the bill tomorrow, and Swanson says it has majority support.
It would allow girls to compete in boys’ sports if a corresponding division for girls is not available. In other words, girls can still play football.
For the most part, the bill solidifies current University Interscholastic League (UIL) rules, which superintendents overwhelmingly approved.
The bill departs from current rules with one important difference. The state allows Texans to change the gender on their birth certificate, and the UIL accepts these altered documents. HB 25, on the other hand, would define sex only according to students’ original birth certificates.
The original bill in the regular 87th legislature had the same provision when it passed the Senate earlier this year. However, it was changed in the House Public Education Committee to conform to UIL rules and allow altered birth certificates.
This committee was a notable hurdle for the original bill. Chaired by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), the committee initially failed to pass the bill by one vote. Dutton, who had abstained from voting then, revived and voted for the bill two days later “as a consequence” after his Democratic colleagues — led by one on the same committee, Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) — killed one of his unrelated bills meant to strengthen public school accountability.
Despite a stumbling passage through committee, the bill faced steeper odds on its last leg to the House floor. Low placement on the House agenda and Democrat stalling ultimately ran out the clock, killing the bill before it ever received a House floor vote. Behind-the-scenes reporting suggests that Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), chairman of the Calendars Committee that sets the agenda, purposefully set the bill too low to receive a vote before time expired.
If so, tides have clearly turned. This morning, Burrows showed up at a press conference in support of HB 25 and announced that the House will vote on it tomorrow.
Unlike all previous versions of this proposal, HB 25 was crafted to avoid going to the Public Education Committee. Instead, it went to the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, chaired by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin).
Governor Greg Abbott has added the topic to the agendas of all three special sessions that he has called since the regular session ended. However, the Democrat quorum bust lamed the first session and much of the second.
If HB 25 passes the House tomorrow, it will then have to pass the Senate. Previous votes seem to show a clear path ahead.
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