Creighton meets with voters; supports bathroom bill

Published 6:43 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton held an informal open house at his Beaumont office Thursday evening.
The legislature wrapped up its usual business on Memorial Day, but Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session that is set to begin later this month.
The open house attracted dozens of constituents. Many sought to chat with Sen. Creighton about several hot topics he will be deciding in the coming weeks.
“I’m here to talk to Sen. Creighton about the bathroom bill business,” said Albert Odell, a Beaumont resident.
The proposed “bathroom bill,” or SB 6, was written by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican from Brenham. The bill was introduced during regular session, though it failed to go anywhere in the House. However, Gov. Abbott set it as one of his legislative priorities for the special session.
As written, the bill requires transgender people to use the bathroom in public schools, government buildings and public universities that corresponds to their “biological sex.”
The bill also overrules any local ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom of their choice.
Odell said he thought the whole debate was ridiculous.
“Ideally I’d like him to go him against it,” he said of Creighton. “But I think the best I can do is convince him there are better things for him to spend his time on rather than keeping certain people out of certain bathrooms.”
Sen. Creighton was met with support, too.
“Well I am a supporter of the senator’s and I came out to see him while he was in town,” said Beaumont resident Cindy Bloodsworth.
She said she also wanted to talk to him about Medicaid caps. Though Medicaid spending is a federal issue, Texas’ Republican federal representatives in congress and in the senate are pushing for Medicaid block grants through their health care reform and this could lead to caps.
Bloodsworth said she was opposed to caps, as one of her children is disabled.
Still others just wanted to share their overall thoughts with Creighton.
“I’m a Democrat and I thought this last session, as far as I’m concerned, wasn’t very productive,” Ray Nelson a Beaumont resident said. “I’d like to tell him that I don’t appreciate some of those decisions this legislature made.”
In an exclusive interview prior to the open house, Sen. Creighton spoke with the Port Arthur News and shared some of his hopes for the session, which begins July 18 and may last for 30 days.
The governor called for the legislature to consider 19 items, which is an ambitious goal although some items—such as renewing certain state agencies that are set to sunset—are must-pass.
“It’s the largest call I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been a member of the legislature or been following it and I worked in the senate in the late ‘80’s,” he said. “So, I’ve been following it a lot of the time.”
Creighton said his pet project is property tax reform.
The House killed the Senate’s bill that would have allowed homeowners a chance to roll back property tax hikes of over five percent with a vote. At present, residents may only vote when the collections increase by eight percent.
“Property taxes are going to be one of my top priorities,” Creighton said. “I was proud to be one of the legislators to, in writing, ask for a property tax special session.”
Creighton said he also supports the more controversial bathroom bill.
“I’m supportive of the privacy act as it was passed out of the senate,” he said.
Creighton said he opposed former President Barack Obama’s support of transgender bathroom rights.
In May 2016, the Obama administration issued a guideline that required schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice under the Title IX law. However, President Donald Trump rescinded that rule in February.
Nevertheless, Creighton said the law is meant to send a message to school districts that they would not lose federal funding and also they would be required to abide by state law on the issue, whether they wanted to or not.
The law would require transgender students to use the bathroom of their sex at birth.
The law was inspired by a North Carolina law that has since been rescinded after it cost the state billions in lost sports, entertainment and investment revenue.
Creighton said he’s not worried about that happening in Texas.
“I would say that I’ve got the utmost confidence in the Texas economic engine and the people who are moving here with the hope and freedom and liberty we offer.”
Creighton also pointed out that in the past six months the bathroom bill has been debated, no businesses or sports organizations have threatened to boycott the state.
“I would say the NCAA has chosen to stay in the state of Texas knowing that this legislation is a top priority in the senate.”
Creighton said the bill will pass the Senate and he believes it would have passed the House if Speaker Joe Straus had not killed the bill.
Straus, a San Antonio Republican, has said Texas has other priorities and he worries that transgender students would be bullied and harassed.
Nevertheless, Creighton said the bill is a move to protect individual safety.
So far, there has been no evidence of any transgender person assaulting anyone in a bathroom.
When asked if he thought a transgender girl going into a men’s bathroom could result in her being assaulted, harassed or bullied, he said the girl might have other options.
“There’s a lot of school districts that have a unisex bathroom at the nurse’s station and they’ve operated that way for a long time,” he said. “We have to find a fine line and a balance between the needs of the majority and the very important needs of the special few who find themselves lacking in the preferred accommodations they’d like to see.”

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