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Texas House Committee Adds LGBTQ Protections to Bill Limiting Cities' Ability to Regulate Business Practices 

click to enlarge Members of Equality Texas speak out at a recent press event against bills they say would green-light workplace discrimination. - EQUALITY TEXAS LIVESTREAM
  • Equality Texas livestream
  • Members of Equality Texas speak out at a recent press event against bills they say would green-light workplace discrimination.
A committee in the Texas House of Representatives has voted to stop municipalities from regulating private employers' scheduling and overtime policies — but only after adding a clause to protect local LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinances.

The House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday considered the bill along with two similar measures, all designed to override cities' ability to set rules for private employers. The three proposals have come under fire from LGBTQ advocates, who argue they'd let companies shirk non-discrimination ordinances such as the one adopted by San Antonio in 2013.

Another of the debated bills would have struck down municipal policies requiring business to offer paid sick time to workers. San Antonio and two other Texas cities have recently adopted such rules.

In the end, the committee only voted on the scheduling-related bill, approving it 10-2. After testimony from legal experts and gay-rights groups, lawmakers added language specifically designed to protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination at their workplaces.

Human rights groups have characterized the bills as "Trojan horses" that would allow the Republican-controlled Lege to undo LGBTQ protections adopted by the state's big cities.

However, Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, maintain the proposals are only meant to get rid of local policies that are confusing for employers and hurt the state's business climate.

“At this point, if the language protecting non-discrimination ordinances is removed again, it would be clear that Dan Patrick and his cohort of extreme lawmakers are using this legislation to attack the rights of LGBTQ Texans,” Rebecca Marques, the Texas state director for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Texas Tribune.

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