DALLAS – The controversial bathroom bill will likely re-emerge in the Texas legislature, two local lawmakers predict, now that Speaker Joe Straus has announced he will not run for re-election.
“I think it’s going to continue to come up until it’s addressed legislatively somehow,” said state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this morning.
“Someone will file it. I do not think it will drive the legislature like it did last session,” added state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
Straus, who last Wednesday announced he would not run for re-election, led the defeat of the controversial bathroom bill this year. The legislation, supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, would have required people to use the public restroom that corresponds to their biological sex. Straus, the Texas Association of Business and others said such a law would discriminate against transgender individuals.
But with Straus out, the House will move further to the right ideologically, Tinderholt and Villalba said. The question is by how much.
“I think the House is going to move to the right a little bit especially when the Republicans come together as a caucus and we vote without the Democrat bloc choosing the next speaker,” said Tinderholt.
Villalba said he agreed the House would shift right, as well, but disagreed with Tinderholt on whether Democrats should have a voice in choosing the next speaker.
“I disagree with the representative on whether we should have a say from our friends on the other side of the political aisle. I think they represent a large segment of Texans. We have to consider everyone’s ideas when we start talking about who will be the next leader of the House,” said Villalba.
A number of House Republicans are gauging support and considering running for Straus’ old position.
“I think there are a number of names already bandied about. Phil King put his name in early. But is he one of the names that is driven organically? I don’t know. Dr. John Zerwas from Houston is a very strong candidate. I think Four Price will start to rise to the top. I know Ron Simmons is looking for an opportunity there,” said Villalba.
Tinderholt did not give specific names of candidates he would support but said he wanted the next speaker to de-centralize control in the chamber and be more transparent.
Representatives choose their own speaker and that won’t happen until the legislature reconvenes in 2019.
Despite giving up the gavel, Villalba said he doubts Straus will leave politics.
“I think you’re going to see his name again shortly. I don’t know if It’s going to be as a statewide candidate or a congressional candidate but I know we’ll see Joe Straus again on the Texas political scene,” said Villalba. “He’ll be back in some form. It won’t be the House of Representatives in Austin but I do think we’ll see his name on a ballot in the next four years.”
Straus has $10-million in campaign funds which he could use to mount another campaign.
WATCH: “Inside Texas Politics” at WFAA.com to see the entire conversation.