Texas 'bathroom bill' may shape 2018 GOP primary campaigns – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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AUSTIN, Texas — Though “bathroom bills” targeting transgender people fizzled in deep-red states across the U.S., the issue is still white hot in Texas, where the Legislature is heading into special session prepared to revive it and conservative groups are vowing revenge on Republican lawmakers who don’t approve it.

Whether Texas eventually enacts a law requiring transgender people to use public restrooms according to their birth-certificate gender, the issue is looming large over Republican primaries set for March. Powerful business entities, from Apple to the NFL, oppose such a bill as discriminatory, but insurgent candidates have promised to brand lawmakers who dare reject it — or try to remain neutral in the face of so much outcry — as soft on social issues dear to conservatives.

The issue appeared dead in the near-term when the Legislature ended its regular session on Memorial Day without approving a bathroom bill. The Texas Senate had passed a strict version in March, but the more-moderate House — led by vocal bathroom bill opponent Republican Speaker Joe Straus — balked and approved a watered-down version applying only to public schools. The Senate rejected that. A stalemate may yet prevail if neither side budges during a 30-day extra session that GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has convened starting Tuesday.