PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers are set to consider a watered-down version of a bill that would have barred transgender people from using public bathrooms not associated with their birth gender.
Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills, Ariz.) changed his bill after a national civil rights group called it discriminatory and is expected to present the new version of his so-called bathroom bill in the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday afternoon
Under Kavanagh’s previous bill, SB 1432, people could be charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct if they used the incorrect bathroom. The deciding factor would have been what was written on their birth certificate.
That amendment caused controversy with the transgender community. Many of its members showed up for last week’s committee hearing, but that hearing was postponed.
The new bill would not criminalize restroom use. Rather, Kavanagh said, it would prevent municipalities from making it a crime or allowing a lawsuit against a business that restricts someone from using a bathroom, changing room or dressing area.
In Arizona, where Republicans control state government, Kavanagh said he was outraged by Phoenix’s effort to increase protections for transgender people. The state’s capital city passed a human rights ordinance last month prohibiting gender identity discrimination at public accommodations.
One local TV station has dubbed it the “Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty” bill, a reference to the Arizona Legislature’s sweeping 2010 immigration law.
On Monday, a committee called “Raise the Bar Arizona” filed paperwork seeking a recall election on Kavanagh, citing what it called the lawmaker’s hypocrisy on pledging to reduce the size of government while introducing legislation that would extend government’s reach.
Kavanagh dismissed the effort as misguided political harassment.
In 2011, Arizona voters ousted state Senate President Russell Pearce in a recall election. Pearce was the primary sponsor of Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial anti-illegal alien measure that was signed into law in 2010, and the first ever Arizona lawmaker removed from office.