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Legislative Cocktail Hour

Texas House passes an amendment that could legalize discrimination on college campuses

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Walking on campus
An amendment that would allow university student organizations to discriminate against potential members passed in the House this week. collegelifestyles.org
Dogs at an animal shelter
Governor Perry signs a bill that bans gassing animals. catsndogsnaturally
Walking on campus
Dogs at an animal shelter
austin photo: katie friel headshot

You know that little clause at the bottom of pretty much anything that says something like, “we don’t discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, hair color, etc.”? The clause that you and I take for granted because we’ve all been taught starting in Kindergarten and by Marlo Thomas that discrimination is bad and you should be kind to everyone? Well, the Texas House of Representatives just threw that clause out the window of the rotunda.

An amendment that would allow university student organizations to discriminate against potential members based on pretty much anything passed in the House this week. Tacked on as an amendment to a bill about the Higher Education Coordinating Board, the proposal by Rep. Matt Krause (R- Fort Worth), would require schools to let university club student leaders discriminate against potential members based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion and everything else in that little clause at the bottom. And all of this can happen even if the university receives taxpayer money.

On his Facebook page, Krause defended the amendment saying, “Today I offered an amendment on the House floor which would protect First Amendment rights to free speech and association on college campuses. One of the great side benefits is that it will also protect religious liberty on the same campuses.” I’m not sure if Krause has actually read the rest Constitution and its amendments — one would hope so, since he's a constitutional law professor in North Texas — but there’s a whole bunch more to it beside the first one.

There’s even a fourteenth one that says, “It confers upon Congress power to see to it that the protection given by the laws of the States shall be equal in respect to life and liberty and property to all persons."

Bill passes revealing “dark money groups”
In every election there are tax-exempt groups that spend big money influencing elections without ever making public who is behind the donations. The House passed a bill this week that would force these groups to reveal who was behind the curtain.

This bill still faces a major hurdle: the governor’s desk. Gov. Rick Perry, who has a whole bunch of supporters in the "dark money" business (in fact the "against" witness list looks a lot like his campaign finance reports) could very well veto it before it becomes law.

Dog-loving Perry signs animal gassing ban 
One thing that the Governor didn’t veto this week was a law that now makes it illegal to use carbon monoxide as a form of euthanasia in Texas animal shelters. "SB 360 put to an end a method of animal euthanasia that is recognized as cruel, expensive and unsafe," said Josh Havens, a spokesman for Gov. Perry. "By signing the bill into law, Gov. Perry was proud to add Texas to a growing list of states that outlaw gas chamber euthanasia for shelter dogs and cats."

This bill received wide bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans. The Texas Cats and Dogs Super PAC issued their own statement saying, “No bones about it, this was a good bill.” Perry, it should be noted here, is well known for his love of dogs. In fact, he claims to have shot to death a coyote while defending his pup as they were on their daily walk. True story. 

House rejects term limits
The House rejected a bill this week that would limit terms of office for the state’s statewide elected officials, including the Governor. The Senate had already passed the bill, but opponents in the House said it unfairly left out legislators and targeted Perry — who, after 12 years, is the state’s longest serving governor.

Our friend Rep. Krause was quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as saying, “With term limits, you have a bureaucracy that runs things. An elected official is accountable to the people, the bureaucracy is not.”

Time out, I’m confused. You throw the word “bureaucracy” into a statement, and I get mad because I hate bureaucracy I think! But then again, aren’t term limits essential to the limiting of bureaucracy? Who cares! We all hate bureaucracy and want our lawmakers to govern forever. Krause, you old devil, you’ve done it again!

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