Just to Clarify

Why is there a definition of “sex” in a bill about ride-sharing services?

House Bill 100 creates a new chapter in the Occupations Code to regulate drivers hired by ride-sharing services, which the bill calls “transportation network companies” (TNCs).  The bill specifically states that regulating TNCs “(1) is an exclusive power and function of this state; and (2) may not be regulated by a municipality or other local entity . . . .”

This is yet another move on the part of the Republican-dominated state government to take power away from cities (many of which Republicans do not carry in state-wide elections), counties, and school districts.  In the bill analysis supporters say this:

The bill would be an acceptable infringement on local control because current municipal regulations are eroding, not protecting liberty. Local control is a tool to increase freedoms, rather than an end goal in and of itself. Unlike the state’s relationship to the federal government, Texas municipalities are creations of the state, which grants their powers, so it would be acceptable for the state to limit local control of TNC rules.

In other words, the Legislature thinks they should get to decide if your community’s decisions protect liberty and freedom in the way the State wants it protected and for the benefit of those the Legislature wants to protect. (How exactly the inherent rights of home-rule cities, including the right to referendum, fits into this is a subject for another day.)

This power grab is evidenced by this bill, the sanctuary cities bill, the bathroom bill, the short-term rentals bill, and the plastic bags bill, just in this session.

So what does HB 100 have to do with sex or gender?

HB 100 requires TNCs to adopt anti-discrimination policies that prohibit drivers from “discriminating on the basis of a passenger’s or potential passenger’s location or destination, race, color, national origin, religious belief or affiliation, sex, disability, or age . . . .”  Rep. Tony Tenderholt offered an amendment to this section to clarify that “ ‘sex’ means the physical condition of being male or female.”

As Tenderholt himself said, “The bottom line is there’s no huge reason behind it. I just wanted to clarify.”

The author of the bill, Rep. Chris Paddie, said he didn’t think the amendment would affect transgender people because “if you’re transitioning from a male to a female, you’re still one or the other.” I guess that’s one reading of the amendment.  https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/20/house-democrats-disavow-ride-hailing-bill-after-addition-sex-amendment/

The amendment was approved and the bill was passed.  The companion bill in the Senate, SB 176, is pending in committee.  The text, analysis, and history of HB 100 can be found here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=HB100

In case you are lucky enough to have forgotten about some of Tenderholt’s other work, he’s the one who introduced HB 948, which made abortion the legal equivalent of murder.  His reasoning was, to quote him clarifying things for us again, “Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child,”  https://www.texasobserver.org/texas-lawmaker-no-abortion-access-would-force-women-to-be-more-personally-responsible-with-sex/   In spite of his language about “consenting adults,” Tenderholt does not support allowing abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape nor does his bill make the father an accessory to the “crime” of abortion.

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