Texas governor signs texting-while-driving ban into law

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With the special session, beginning July 18, Gov. Abbott is reviving a so-called "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people after the last try ended with Republican lawmakers angry and deadlocked.

Abbott asked lawmakers to first pass key legislation that would keep some state agencies from shuttering.

Legislators won't return to work until July 18, but already Democrats and some outside groups are fuming, particularly over a North Carolina-style "bathroom bill" that big business opponents including Amazon, IBM and the National Football League called discriminatory and hoped had been extinguished for good.

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The issue has opened divisions in the Republican party, which dominates Texas politics, pitting the pro-business establishment wing against the powerful socially conservative wing, which says a bathroom law is a common-sense measure needed to protect privacy.

In the waning days of the session, when Patrick and his minions began to realize that their bathroom bill - prohibiting transgender people from using the appropriate public restrooms and HB 2899, which would have banned trans people from appropriate restrooms AND rolled back local human rights ordinances - had no chance of passing, he began threatening to kill vital legislation (such as the sunset bills) to force a special session. That backlash has deterred most GOP governors in the US from pursuing similar laws but Abbott has gone against the tide. It ended Memorial Day with Republican leaders feuding over the failure of the original proposal and - in another sign of raw tensions - a skirmish between lawmakers over a "sanctuary cities" crackdown. One version he again endorsed Tuesday stops short of requiring people to use the bathroom listed on their birth certificate but would rollback transgender protections in major Texas cities.

He also signaled that he wants lawmakers to return with cooler heads.

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The Texas Association of Business, the state's largest employer group, called the legislation, known as Senate Bill 6, discriminatory, and said it would hurt businesses trying to attract talent.

Political and business analysts said passage of such a bill would put Texas, the most powerful Republican-controlled state, in the spotlight on an issue that has been a flashpoint in USA culture wars.

UNION DUES: The governor is reviving an effort stalled during the regular session to end voluntary payroll deductions of union dues from state and public employee paychecks.

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