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Have lawmakers flushed the transgender bathroom bill?

There just wasn’t time Monday to hear the Senate counterpart to a bill by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, that would ban transgender people from using restrooms for the gender they identify as, unless it’s on their driver’s license.

But other bills that weren’t heard in this week’s Criminal Justice Committee meeting are scheduled for hearings next Monday by the panel, chaired by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker. Among them: a plan to penalize sexting, which was inadvertently decriminalized.

Without a first committee hearing before the sixth of nine weeks in the legislative session, the Senate bathroom bill (SB 1464) by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, could be dead. Without a Senate version moving forward, so could Artiles’.

It’s worth noting that Dean’s bill doesn’t address gender, the main source of controversy surrounding the House proposal, which critics say would require transgender men and women to use the restroom they don’t identify with, possibly putting them at risk.

Instead, Dean’s bill would have banned entering “a public facility with the intent to harass or engage in harassment, lewd behavior, assault, battery, molestation, rape, or voyeurism. Now, though, he’s changed his tune on the matter.

“I feel we have adequate statutes covering issues of safety,” he said Tuesday.

Artiles’ bill (HB 583) has passed two House subcommittees and is slated to be heard in the Judiciary Committee next but has not yet been put on an agenda.

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