The following is from the July 10, edition of The Dallas Morning News. SMU Law Prof. Dale Carpenter, an expert in constitutional law, provided expertise for this story.
July 11, 2017
By Brandi Grissom
Austin Bureau Chief
AUSTIN — Just a week before lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene at the Capitol in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday officially ordered a special legislative session to address a slew of topics, including limiting local property taxes and restricting where Texans can go to the bathroom.
"From reining in skyrocketing property taxes to extending the Maternal Mortality Task Force, there are important issues on the agenda for the special session that Texans deserve to see passed, and that I expect to sign into law," Abbott said in a prepared statement.
Abbott told lawmakers last month that he would call them back to Austin after they failed amid Republican intra-party squabbling during the regular legislative session to approve a measure that would prevent the abolishing of several important state agencies, including the board that oversees doctors.
Abbott said in his announcement that after lawmakers approve that critical legislation, he will allow them to begin considering 19 other priorities that he has added to the agenda for the special session. Among those other priorities are the so-called bathroom bill, several measures that limit the power of local governments to enact regulations, and other proposals that seek to further curb access to abortion services in Texas. . . .
Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, said Simmons' new bills were slightly narrower than the previous bathroom bills.
But he has continuing concerns about their legality. Carpenter said the bills could undo rights that schools, cities and counties have extended to groups of people who are not already protected in federal law, like veterans. . . .
Carpenter also wondered how the measure would be enforced in schools. The legislation would bar school boards of trustees from adopting or enforcing policies that protect kids' access to these intimate facilities.
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