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The Brief: Transgender bathroom fight heads to Legislature

After months of sparring over the rights of transgender Texans, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst on Thursday announced a bill that would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex.”

State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveil the text of Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and universities based on “biological sex,” on Jan. 5, 2017.

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The Big Story

After months of sparring over whether transgender Texans should be allowed to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst on Thursday unveiled a bill to address the issue. Here's the story:

Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It also appears to essentially exempt convention centers, stadiums and entertainment venues. The legislation would not apply if “if the location owned by a government entity is privately leased to an outside entity," which is often the case for those sort of venues, Kolkhorst said.

Patrick said his support for the legislation is based on privacy concerns, arguing that nondiscrimination policies allow men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms. "We know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history," Patrick said at the news conference announcing the bill. "You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no."

 LGBT advocates have decried the proposal as discriminatory. They’ve argued there’s little evidence that nondiscrimination policies — including those in place in major cities across the country — allow sexual predators to freely enter women's restrooms and locker rooms. “Any legislation that would seek to target any group of people for discrimination, I would contend, is morally bankrupt and wrong,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas.

State business groups also have come out against the bill. The Texas Association of Business — a top business lobby group that regularly sides with conservatives — has warned that anti-LGBT legislation, including SB 6, could cost the state between $964 million and $8.5 billion and more than 100,000 jobs, a claim Patrick has dismissed as "fearmongering."

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Even high-performing schools get D's and F's in Texas’ new grading system, Dallas Morning News

Viral arrest video tests Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, KERA News

Sources: Trump will ask Congress, not Mexico, to pay for border wall, CNN

How Regulators OK'd a Port Aransas Project for a Felon with Fake Name, Texas Observer

In-state tuition for certain undocumented immigrants OK by Straus, San Antonio Express-News

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Symposium on Race and Public Policy on Jan. 13 at Huston-Tillotson University

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation on Mental Health on Jan. 26 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center

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