Texas Senate attaches voucher plan to school finance fix


ANCHIA: Discrimination in any form is still discrimination, and it needs to be called out as such.

In a flurry of activity before the state's legislative session wraps May 29, Texas lawmakers are pushing through controversial bills that affect children and touch on hot-button issues of sexuality and religion.

Over the weekend, the Texas Senate voted to pass a measure previously approved by the House that allows adoption and child placement agencies to turn away prospective parents based on a caseworker's personal religious beliefs.

The amendment was added to an unrelated education bill in the Texas House and would only apply to children while attending public and charter schools.

And lawmakers weren't done. "It's won't", Huberty said, adding he plans to announce the House's response to the Senate changes Tuesday.

Abbott said both pieces of legislation were also priorities for him, though he has not publicly threatened a special session over the two items.

The state's Republican-controlled legislature has been at the forefront in advancing measures seen by backers as protecting traditional values and religious liberty but criticized by civil rights groups as eroding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It paints a target on the backs of already vulnerable children. One critic on Twitter called it "discrimination Sunday".

With the House vote on Sunday, the measure is likely to become law.

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On Monday, Abbott continued his defense of the bill, releasing a list of almost two dozen police chiefs and law enforcement officials along the Texas-Mexico border signing onto a weekend editorial from Abbott in support of the law. Pharmacists refuse to fill birth control and hormone therapy prescriptions.

However, the legislation also imposes a stiff penalty that carries up to 10 years in jail for anyone who lies in signing the declaration that says they faced a "reasonable impediment" to getting the types of ID required by the 2011 law.

"We're big boys and girls, and we can certainly understand the realities of life around here", said Jim Keffer, a former GOP state representative whom the Texas Association of Business brought on board in March to focus on issues including discriminatory legislation. When Democrats pressed Paddie on how his amendment was relevant to a bill about school emergency preparations, such as for a gunman on campus or a tornado, Paddie said it concerned students' safety.

The bill codifies the changes to Texas' 2011 voter ID law the state was ordered to make by a court after the law was struck down by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer.

The shooting of Kocurek, who has returned to the bench after 26 surgeries, prompted an examination of judicial security that identified several shortcomings and resulted in the bill, which was authored by Sen.

The Texas House hopes to avoid a similar backlash with its schools-only version, reported CNN affiliate TV station KTRK in Houston. "Because that is what this law says he has to do", said Ann Elder as she held up a photo of her transgender son. "She just wants to be treated like her peers are".

"I'm willing to stay as long and until the place we're staying in ... freezes over, until we get that bill" passed, Patrick said during the bill-signing ceremony, with Abbott seated behind him.