Protests at Capitol on first day of Special Session

The House is moving at an expected pace -- while the Senate is trying to fast track bills out.

As lawmakers head back to work for the 85th Legislative Special session, protesters wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

With a hit of the gavel, the 85th Legislative Special Session came to order Tuesday. But a lot of the action took place outside of the chambers. 

There were a variety of protests varying from a resistance choir to a silent protest against the so-called "bathroom bill."

"I can't stand by and idly watch as my transgender brothers and sisters are discriminated against," said Mike Hendrix with Keep Austin Proud.

Members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and other Democrats also spoke against not only bathroom legislation, but also the ban on so-called "sanctuary cities" that passed in the regular session.

"So far, just because we're talking about discriminatory legislation such as sanctuary cities we've lost 66 million dollars in bookings, 38 thousand room nights that have canceled as a result of passing bills like sanctuary cities," said Phillip Jones from the Dallas Convention Bureau, and the Keep Texas Open coalition.

Outside the Capitol, the One Texas Resistance Rally cheered against any discriminatory legislation.

"We're fighting for our rights," said protester Becca Alonso. 

Emily Fletty said she wants lawmakers to hear what she has to say.

"We're focused on the wrong things, we need to be focused on putting money into health care and classrooms and instead we're wasting our time on on a discrimination bill," said Fletty.

"It's our future and if we don't do anything to change it, then we'll have to live in it," said Walton.

During all the protests, the only thing lawmakers can discuss is the Sunset Bill.

"Every part of my day the last four weeks has been consumed with getting House Bill 1 drafted correctly, and we've had lots of conversations, and we've gone through quite frankly several drafts, but at the end of the day, when the Governor puts this folder on my desk and says 'file this,' that is what I filed," said Representative Larry Gonzales.

Gonzales filed the bill in the House.

"The health and mental health of all Texans is what we're talking about here, and so that is of the utmost importance is for the purpose of which we've been gathered is to pass the sunset bill," said Gonzales.

As for other bills, he said they'll cross that bridge when they come to it.

"My focus is just on the sunset bill, we'll look at the other bills on the call as they come up," said Gonzales.

Austin Representative Celia Israel said she thinks the Texas taxpayer money shouldn't be spent on passing social issues like SB 4, or the "bathroom bill."

"I think it's important at the start of a special session that we speak to the misplaced priorities that we see," said Israel. "Let's take care of the sunset bill and let's go home."

A request, that will now be in the hands of lawmakers.

"What's going to happen during a 30-day session that's any different from what happened in the 140-day session, the committees are the same, the membership is the same, our approach is still the same," said Israel. "I am not hopeful that anything is going to be different."

Representative Israel encourages everyone to call their lawmakers and let their voices be heard over the next 30 days.

"We don't have to accept that we're getting called in to be political game pieces on the chess board," said Israel. "I want to come here and do work, productive work, I don't want to come here and be part of a political game, and that's purely and simply what this 30-day session is about."

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