Texas masturbation bill is now in the hands of the Texas State Affairs Committee

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Photo: Harry Cabluck, STF

Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, is making a point about legislation that restricts women’s access to healthcare and abortions by proposing to fine men $100 when they masturbate. Alongside the penalty for wasting semen not resulting in a pregnancy, Farrar’s bill would require a “medically unnecessary digital rectal exam” before any man undergoes a vasectomy or can be prescribed Viagra.Scroll through the gallery to see the key players in the ongoing Texas legislative session and the state’s long history with the issue of abortion. less
Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, is making a point about legislation that restricts women’s access to healthcare and abortions by proposing to fine men $100 when they masturbate. Alongside the penalty for … more

Photo: Harry Cabluck, STF

Biggest issues and players of the 85th Texas LegislatureThe Texas Legislature convened January 10 and will tackle a number of issues facing the state. Keep going for a look at the biggest issues and the players who will shape the session.  less
Biggest issues and players of the 85th Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature convened January 10 and will tackle a number of issues facing the state. 

Keep going for a look at the biggest issues and the … more

Photo: Houston Chronicle

Budget: With a revenue shortfall predicted to top $4 billion, the new state budget will have to go on a diet, even as Abbott and legislative leaders hope that President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to bolster federal border-security initiatives and curb skyrocketing health care costs could save the state billions. Less money will affect passage of proposals with big price tags, including franchise tax reductions and tuition reforms, they agree. less
Budget: With a revenue shortfall predicted to top $4 billion, the new state budget will have to go on a diet, even as Abbott and legislative leaders hope that President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to bolster … more

Photo: Eric Gay, STF

Sanctuary cities: Though no one seems to be able to clearly define exactly what a sanctuary city is, or how many there are in Texas, Senate leaders are intent on banning them, bolstered by Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration. Despite lukewarm support in the House, Abbott has listed this issue as a priority. less
Sanctuary cities: Though no one seems to be able to clearly define exactly what a sanctuary city is, or how many there are in Texas, Senate leaders are intent on banning them, bolstered by Trump’s tough stance … more

Photo: Drew Anthony Smith, Getty Images

Voter ID: The issue of requiring photo IDs to vote in Texas has been in the courts almost since it first was OK’d by lawmakers in 2011, and an attempt to bolster the existing controversial law again will face heated opposition from advocates who say it intentionally suppresses Latino and African-American voting. With the GOP in control of both legislative chambers, the chances of passage look good. less
Voter ID: The issue of requiring photo IDs to vote in Texas has been in the courts almost since it first was OK’d by lawmakers in 2011, and an attempt to bolster the existing controversial law again will face … more

Photo: Eric Gay, STF

Bathroom bill: The “Texas Privacy Act” would bar Texans from going in public-building restrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificate. While conservative Republican supporters insist it’s not akin to North Carolina’s highly controversial law, opponents – including business groups that say it would cost the state $8.5 billion in lost business – are not buying it. Look for a fight in the Senate and a likely roadblock in the House. less
Bathroom bill: The “Texas Privacy Act” would bar Texans from going in public-building restrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificate. While conservative Republican supporters insist it’s not … more

Photo: Tom Reel, Staff

Abortion: As has been common in recent years, Republican lawmakers have offered several abortion-related bills, most aimed at limiting the procedure. Among this year’s bills are those to increase criminal penalties for buying and selling fetal tissue and to ban partial-birth abortions, as well as one to prohibit insurance coverage for abortions. less
Abortion: As has been common in recent years, Republican lawmakers have offered several abortion-related bills, most aimed at limiting the procedure. Among this year’s bills are those to increase criminal … more

Photo: ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN, STR

Child protection: After more than two decades of reforms designed to curb chronic, systemic problems, state officials have designated this issue a top priority, perhaps even an emergency that would allow expedited legislative action. Whatever the fix, it will be costly, a tab that will affect the strained budget. Some lawmakers have suggested the state use some of its Rainy Day Fund to pay for a permanent fix. less
Child protection: After more than two decades of reforms designed to curb chronic, systemic problems, state officials have designated this issue a top priority, perhaps even an emergency that would allow … more

Photo: Photographer: Hongqi Zhang (aka

Ethics reform: After a messy attempt at ethics reform two years ago, even though Abbott had made the issue a priority, the Legislature this year will get another shot at plugging loopholes in current campaign-finance and ethics laws that are big enough to drive a truck through. Asking the Legislature to impose new limits on its ethical behavior has historically proven akin to trying to thread an elephant through a needle. Expect a lot of talk, but most likely little significant reform short of some scandal. less
Ethics reform: After a messy attempt at ethics reform two years ago, even though Abbott had made the issue a priority, the Legislature this year will get another shot at plugging loopholes in current … more

School choice: This issue will be just as contentious between conservatives who say it will let parents get around failing schools and the public-school lobby, which insists it is just a ruse to kill public education. Call it school choice or vouchers, the pitch to pass this legislation will focus on giving parents the option to put their children in the school they believe is best for them. less
School choice: This issue will be just as contentious between conservatives who say it will let parents get around failing schools and the public-school lobby, which insists it is just a ruse to kill public … more

Photo: Eric Gay, STF

Property tax cuts: Texans pay the sixth-highest property taxes in the nation, so who could hate legislation that would cut those taxes? Start with counties and cities and school districts and local taxing entities that are forced to up their rates to keep up with growing populations and needs. The result, according to legislative leaders, is likely to be a cut in taxes that is unlikely to provide real relief to taxpayers in a year when the state budget will be tight. less
Property tax cuts: Texans pay the sixth-highest property taxes in the nation, so who could hate legislation that would cut those taxes? Start with counties and cities and school districts and local taxing … more

Transparency: Two Texas Supreme Court decisions in 2015 carved huge exceptions in Texas’ sunshine law that restrict the ability of taxpayers to find out how local and state governments are spending their money. And while open-government advocates say the solution should be an easy legislative fix, with support from city and county trade associations, economic-development associations across Texas say the exceptions should be preserved.Players to watch less
Transparency: Two Texas Supreme Court decisions in 2015 carved huge exceptions in Texas’ sunshine law that restrict the ability of taxpayers to find out how local and state governments are spending their money. … more

Gov. Greg Abbott: In his second legislative session as governor, the genial former Texas Supreme Court justice widely is expected to play much the same role as two years ago: lawyerly and low-key, quietly working behind the scenes to get what he wants and to block legislation he does not. less
Gov. Greg Abbott: In his second legislative session as governor, the genial former Texas Supreme Court justice widely is expected to play much the same role as two years ago: lawyerly and low-key, quietly … more

Photo: Jay Janner, MBO

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: As the most flamboyant and outspoken of Texas’ top leaders, the former Houston sportscaster and radio talk-show host clearly wants to lead passage of a conservative agenda featuring bills that promise to pass the Senate, after some arm-twisting, but likely hit a wall in the House. less
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: As the most flamboyant and outspoken of Texas’ top leaders, the former Houston sportscaster and radio talk-show host clearly wants to lead passage of a conservative agenda featuring bills … more

Photo: LM Otero, STF

House Speaker Joe Straus: Straus’ reasoned and low-key approach to leadership in the House has served him well. Watch for him to let House leaders take care of their business, with some gentle guidance, always remembering that he needs to protect his members’ interests. less
House Speaker Joe Straus: Straus’ reasoned and low-key approach to leadership in the House has served him well. Watch for him to let House leaders take care of their business, with some gentle guidance, always … more

Photo: Edward A. Ornelas, Staff

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson: As the highest ranking Republican in the GOP-controlled Senate and the first woman to head the budget-writing committee, watch for the Flower Mound Republican to be a penurious nitpicker on spending issues, asking a lot of questions and demanding accountability from state agencies. less
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson: As the highest ranking Republican in the GOP-controlled Senate and the first woman to head the budget-writing committee, watch for the Flower Mound Republican to be a … more

Photo: Harry Cabluck, STF

Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton: Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee that deals with tax issues. A tough negotiator with the Senate in the previous session, expect him to be involved in talks on a number of key bills.Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston: A political confidante of Patrick, the former Harris County tax assessor is expected to be at the forefront of the contentious Senate proposal to curb rising property taxes. less
Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton: Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee that deals with tax issues. A tough negotiator with the Senate in the previous session, expect him to be involved in talks on a … more

Photo: Harry Cabluck, STF

Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso: Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus and an outspoken critic of Patrick, this former prosecutor can be expected to not be silent in challenging many GOP policies and proposals. less
Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso: Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus and an outspoken critic of Patrick, this former prosecutor can be expected to not be silent in challenging many GOP policies and … more

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham: Now in just her second session as a senator after more than a decade in the House, she is author of the controversial “bathroom bill” and will make headlines trying to get it passed. less
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham: Now in just her second session as a senator after more than a decade in the House, she is author of the controversial “bathroom bill” and will make headlines trying to get it … more

Photo: Johnny Hanson, Houston Chronicle

Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano: Author of a failed ethics-reform measure two years ago, this Plano businessman will give it another shot this spring as he hopes to fend off those who like the status quo.
Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano: Author of a failed ethics-reform measure two years ago, this Plano businessman will give it another shot this spring as he hopes to fend off those who like the status quo.

Photo: Tom Reel

Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana: The veteran chair of the House State Affairs, as well as a staunch Straus ally, he can be expected to help closely scrutinize controversial issues from the Senate that the House will face. less
Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana: The veteran chair of the House State Affairs, as well as a staunch Straus ally, he can be expected to help closely scrutinize controversial issues from the Senate that the House … more

Photo: HARRY CABLUCK, STF

Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth: A no-nonsense longtimer who is no fan of the ultra right, Geren is a confidant of Straus who will work to protect House members from Senate pressure to pass controversial measures. Keep clicking to see a cartoon recap of the Texas Legislature’s 84th session in 2015, by Houston Chronicle cartoonist Nick Anderson:
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Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth: A no-nonsense longtimer who is no fan of the ultra right, Geren is a confidant of Straus who will work to protect House members from Senate pressure to pass controversial … more

Photo: Tom Reel, Staff

Texas masturbation bill is now in the hands of the Texas State Affairs Committee

In March, Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, filed a bill that would penalize men for “unregulated masturbatory emissions” and the bill has now made its way into the hands of the Texas State Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

The committee is typically the panel that hears abortion-related legislation and it will now address Farrar’s House Bill 4620, which is named the “Men’s Right to Know Act.”

ALSO IN TEXAS: New policy for low-level pot use kicks in for Harris County

“A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar told Chron.com in March. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access healthcare.”

The bill contains provisions that would put restrictions on masturbation, vasectomies, Viagra prescriptions and colonoscopies, including:

* The state must create a booklet called “A Man’s Right to Know” that contains information on the benefits of and risks of vasectomies, Viagra prescriptions and colonoscopies. A man must review the booklet before getting the procedure.

* A doctor must get consent from the man before providing any of the treatments. The man may only get the treatment after waiting 24 hours and reviewing “A Man’s Right to Know.”

* A man will be fined $100 for “unregulated masturbatory emissions.” The fines will benefit children in the care of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

* A man must receive a rectal exam and an MRI of his rectum before receiving treatments.

* A man can’t sue a doctor for refusing to provide these treatments if the procedure violates the doctor’s “personal, moralistic, or religious beliefs.”

* The state must establish a registry of nonprofit organizations and hospitals that provide abstinence counseling, a supervising physician for “masturbatory emissions,” and semen storage.

* “Masturbatory emissions” must be stored for the wife to use for conception at a later time.

OTHER TEXAS LAWS: Senate OKs bill to safeguard Texas’ sex offender program

The bill is a response to the current state law that requires doctor’s give women considering an abortion the “A Woman’s Right to Know” booklet, which Farrar refers to as a “guilt mechanism.”

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