Texas Lege Preview: These Bills Deserve to Die
Four of the worst measures filed (so far) for the 88th
Texas reps have filed a combined 1,635 bills so far this session, and many oughta die. These ones better do it quick.
The most cruel while stupid award goes to: Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, whose Senate Bill 300 would give pharmacists the authority to refuse to dispense not only abortion-inducing drugs (which, under current law, would only be prescribed to save the life of the mother), but also emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, which doesn't end a pregnancy but, as the bill defines, "prevents pregnancy." Hall's co-sponsorship of a fentanyl testing strip bill does not offset the damage he does elsewhere.
The least-baked award goes to: Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, whose anti-drag show House Bill 643 would convert a huge number of popular venues into "sexually oriented businesses," regulated just like strip clubs. Patterson's definition of a drag show is a performance in which someone presents (in any way – clothes, makeup, etc.) as a gender other than that on their birth certificate. Besides the infeasibility of requiring all performers to show their birth certificates before performing, and the blurry lines of defining a misgendered appearance, this would define many Shakespeare and ballet performances, as well as TED Talks and library programs with transgender speakers, as on par with live nude dancing.
The gasoline-on-a-dumpster-fire award goes to: Sen. Mayes Middleton, R-Wallisville, who thinks he's finally gonna get Texas a "school choice" program this year, diverting money away from public schools just as the state faces a crisis of teachers quitting over unlivable pay. The Texas Parental Empowerment Program proposed in SB 176 sounds great – for each child opted out of public school, parents would receive vouchers for the average amount of money it costs Texas public schools to educate that child (about $10,000 per year). Proponents of public education (both Democrats and rural Republicans) point out that reducing class sizes while reducing funding doesn't work out for many schools – keeping the lights on, getting increasingly empty buses to school each morning, and paying teachers and janitors living wages all cost the same with fewer students enrolled.
The kicking 'em while they're down award goes to: Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian. If HB 822 passes, anybody applying for benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program must take a drug test, and if they test positive for cannabis they are ineligible to receive benefits for a year. This is true even if they're applying on behalf of a child who presumably does not smoke weed but still needs food, medicine, and a roof over their little head.