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Texas Legislature updates: CROWN Act gets committee hearing, other bills remain in limbo as deadlines approach

Texas House committees have less than two weeks to consider bills, so lawmakers are pushing to move their legislation forward.

AUSTIN, Texas — With about one month left in the Texas Legislative session, the pace inside the Capitol is picking up – and so is the pressure for bills to make it through committee. 

In an effort to move legislation forward, Tuesday was Texas CROWN Act Day of Action at the Capitol.

"We have made it very clear that this is one of our top legislative priorities," said State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) in a news conference.

Back in February, KVUE News reported on the movement by Texas lawmakers to pass the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, commonly known as the CROWN Act. The bill bans educational, employment and housing discrimination on the basis of hair texture or style, including braids, locs and twists.

"Imagine living life believing you must use harmful chemicals or other painful techniques to conform to a standard of beauty that isn't your own," said State Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland). "Now imagine being a child missing valuable instruction time or being told you cannot participate in your graduation ceremony because of your hair."

The CROWN Act legislation, House Bill 392, by Rep. Bowers has bipartisan support, four coauthors and nearly 60 sponsors, but at the time of the press conference Tuesday morning, it had not been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on State Affairs.  

That changed Tuesday afternoon. 

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"We so much appreciate the relationships we have on this floor, and Ms. Bowers is a good friend. So with that, Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the five-day posting rule," said State Rep. Chris Paddie (R- Marshall), Chair of the Committee on State Affairs as he announced HB 392 will be considered in committee Thursday at 8 a.m.  

Meanwhile, other bills are stuck in committee. Law enforcement officers, members of the NAACP and others also held a news conference Tuesday to call on lawmakers to move House Bill 88, The George Floyd Act, forward. 

"This is a common sense, meaningful criminal justice reform bill, something that we are desperately needing," said Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Constable Nabil Shike.

The group is also urging lawmakers to vote out of committee Senate Bill 1544, the Breonna Taylor Act, by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) which bans no-knock warrants and The Botham Jean Act, House Bill 929, by De Soto Democrat Rep. Carl Sherman, which aims to keep Texans safe in their homes. 

And while some are rallying for bills to pass, the League of Women's Voters sent a different message Tuesday. The group held a news conference calling on the Senate not to advance a bill to allow eligible Texans to carry handguns, openly or concealed, without a license to carry. A special Senate committee is holding a public hearing on the controversial bill Thursday at 9 a.m.

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