Just days after a bill to “save Chick-fil-A” died in the Texas legislature, Republicans have taken special action to resurrect the low-priority bill.
HB 3172 is meant to block cities from taking “adverse actions” against companies based on their owners’ religious beliefs. It was proposed after San Antonio City Council members rejected a slate of new restaurants at a local airport until Chick-fil-A, with its anti-LGBTQ history, was removed from the list.
The State House failed to pass that bill. But the State Senate just took up its companion bill, SB 1978 and placed it on a fast track for approval. (Why bother letting the public weigh in on it, right?)
On Monday, the Senate waived rules to allow [Sen. Bryan] Hughes’ bill to be heard in committee without public notice. A few minutes later, the Senate Affairs Committee convened and held a speedy public hearing on the bill with no speakers — probably because no one had notice there would be a debate. When the bill came before the House State Affairs committee last month, dozens of people spoke for and against the bill.
Later, the committee advanced the bill to the full Senate and placed it on the Senate’s intent calendar for Tuesday.
At least one group is visibly infuriated.
The Texas Freedom Network criticized the Senate and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for “ramming” through the legislation without giving people the chance to testify.
“It’s appalling to hold a ghost hearing and then take a snap vote that leaves virtually no chance for anyone to tell senators how such a sweeping discrimination bill would affect individuals and families across the state,” Kathy Miller, president of Texas Freedom Network, said in a statement. “The lieutenant governor is so desperate to pass a bill that shields discrimination against LGBT Texans that he no longer even pretends to care what anybody else thinks about it. But ramming this bill through doesn’t change the fact that the majority of Texans oppose laws that allow the use of religion to hurt people simply because of who they are or whom they love.”
The bigots are out in full force, and they’re using a maneuver that would enrage them if Democrats ever tried it to protect women’s rights. (All the more reason for Democrats to do exactly that in every state where they can. The alternative is letting Republicans always cheat, win, and rewrite the rules to their advantage.)
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