Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has called on Governor Abbott to call a special session in June to revive three controversial and divisive bills that died on the House Calendar yesterday: SB 10 (taxpayer funded lobbying), SB 12 (social media censorship), and SB 29 (transgender sports participation). Here is what those bills looked like when the clock ran out:
SB 10 by Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston)/Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall): SB 10 prohibits the governing body of a political subdivision from using public money to contract with a person required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, to communicate directly with one or more legislators to influence legislation pending before the legislature unless the expenditure is: (1) authorized by a majority vote of the governing body in an open meeting, and (2) voted on as a stand-alone agenda item. If the governing body approves a lobby contract, it must publish on its website a copy of the contract and identify the name of the lobbyist, the amount of money authorized to be paid to the lobbyist, the amount of membership dues or other money paid to a nonprofit association that retains a registered lobbyist, and a copy of its legislative agenda or any resolution adopted pertaining to the legislature. The bill bars a registered lobbyist for a political subdivision from lobbying a member of the legislature regarding truth-in-taxation provisions of Chapter 26, Tax Code (governing adoption of tax rates, rollback procedures, etc.). It also prohibits the political subdivision from reimbursing the lobbyist for any money spent on food, beverages, or entertainment. The bill authorizes a resident of the political subdivision to file a sworn complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission for an alleged violation. SB 10 does not prevent an officer or employee of a political subdivision from providing information to the legislature, appearing at legislative hearings, or communicating directly with legislators to influence pending legislation. The bill applies broadly to any entity that imposes a tax or issues bonds, as well as community college districts and public colleges and universities.
SB 12 by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola)/Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney): SB 12 adds Chapter 143A, CPRC, to create a private cause of action against an interactive computer service for “censorship,” defined as the suppression of lawful speech. It applies to a service with more than 100 million active users in a calendar month, provides for declaratory and injunctive relief and recovery of attorney’s fees and costs, and authorizes a court to impose sanctions for failure to comply with a court order. SB 12 further authorizes the attorney general to bring suit to enjoin violations of this law and to recover fees and costs. The bill additionally imposes a number of new requirements on social media companies, including: (1) to disclose its content management, data management, and business practices; (2) to publish its acceptable use policy; (3) to publish a quarterly transparency report with specified content; (4) to establish a readily accessible complaint system; (5) if it removes content, to notify the user and provide an opportunity to appeal; and (6) to establish a process for reviewing complaints. SB 12 gives the attorney general enforcement authority with recovery of costs, investigative expenses, and attorney’s fees.
SB 29 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)/Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston): SB 29 requires student participants in an interscholastic athletic team sponsored by a school district or open-enrollment charter school to be classified according to the (biological) sex as designated on their birth certificate or other government document. The bill requires the University Interscholastic League to conduct a study of whether allowing a transgender student to participate in a sport designated for the opposite biological sex causes disruption or deprives another student of participation. The UIL must report findings and recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2026. The bill expires on September 1, 2027.