Texas House Speaker Joe Straus: ‘Count Me as a No’ on ‘Bathroom Bill’
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus came out swinging against the “bathroom bill” during a livestreamed interview Friday.
“I oppose it … I’d never even heard about [this issue] until a year or two ago … Count me as a no,” Straus said during a sit-down at the University of Texas at Austin with Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT.
The San Antonio Republican, who was elected unanimously by House members as speaker this session, has said previously that Senate Bill 6 was not a priority for the House, as it is for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the Senate.
But Straus made his opposition to the proposal crystal clear Friday, adding that for SB 6 to get this much attention at the Legislature is “astounding,” and the measure seems “manufactured and unnecessary.”
His stance doesn’t bode well for SB 6, which would require people to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate. Opposition to the bill seems to have come from every direction, including the right. Last week, House State Affairs Committee Chair Byron Cook, a key player in the fate of the bill, said there’s “no evidence” Texas needs such a law.
Instead, Straus said his priority for this session is to address problems with mental health care services, public school finance, the state’s failing child welfare system and eliminating straight-ticket voting.
Straus said he believes a “sanctuary city bill of some sort will pass” this session, though it remains to be seen how much different it will look than the version that sailed through the Senate.
The budget disagreements between the Senate and the House — mostly hinging on cuts to social services due to a budget shortfall — will be “worked out” before the Lege adjourns in late May, Straus said. He added that some conservative members’ disdain for using money from the Rainy Day Fund is likely attributable to a “big donor’s think tank or something.”
Straus, who has served as speaker for a record-tying five terms, said Friday that he’s not “tired of the job of speaker” and that he’s “not planning on not running again.” If elected again, Straus would be the longest-serving speaker, surpassing Pete Laney and Gib Lewis.