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North Texas lawmaker trying to end race-based hair discrimination

Rep. Rhetta Bowers explains why she’s confident measure will pass during 2023 legislative session.

AUSTIN, Texas — Lawmakers in Austin are once again trying to pass legislation to ban race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and schools.

Often called the CROWN Act, HB 567 would prevent policies that discriminate against hair texture or certain hairstyles, including braids, locs and twists.

While the bill received a public hearing in recent days, it was left pending in the State Affairs Committee, unlike two years ago, when it was voted out unanimously.

But the bill’s author, State Rep. Rhetta Bowers, isn’t worried.

The Garland Democrat says she has the full support of the committee and members will eventually move it on.

“I really think we have full support. I think we’ll get a unanimous vote again. But it was just so late. And the committee had been through so many other bills,” Bowers told us on Inside Texas Politics. “It was a late night. We were all a little bit tired. But you could tell, testimony felt just as powerful.”

The legislation was first introduced in 2019.

Since then, 20 states have passed the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.”

There is one slight difference in HB 567 from previous iterations.

The term dreadlocks has been changed to locs, in part so the Texas bill matches the federal bill.

“I do think that it is better to use the term locs because it did have somewhat of, lend itself to something dreadful when you talked about dreadlocks. And I think respectfully, that is the right term to just use locks,” the Democrat explained.

The bill didn’t pass in 2021 because time ran out and that legislative session ended before the full Texas House could vote on the measure.

But Bowers says they’re ahead of schedule this year, receiving a public hearing on March 22 versus April 29 in 2021.

“We’re looking good. I’m just doing my due diligence to make sure I respectfully give that phone call or tap them and say, 'Hey, I just want to make sure I have your support and your vote for this,'” said the lawmaker.

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