Leadership

Texas House Considers Discriminatory Bill Alternative

By / Apr 21, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

ASAE, business groups, and convention bureaus oppose a new Texas House bill meant to replace a controversial Senate bill that would dictate bathroom use policies.

A Texas House committee held a hearing into the early Thursday morning hours on an amended version of House Bill 2899, which would prevent municipalities and school districts from establishing bathroom use policies.

House Republicans said this bill was intended as a less restrictive option to SB 6, the Texas Senate’s controversial bill requiring that transgender individuals use the bathroom of their gender at birth. The amended House bill, however, encountered heavy opposition from critics who said it is so broadly written that it could strip anti-discrimination protections from not only LGBTQ people, but also from other groups such as veterans or the elderly. ASAE opposes both pieces of legislation.

“ASAE does not support ongoing efforts in the Texas legislature to change social policy in Texas. We fail to see the need for this process and this debate to continue,” ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham, IV, FASAE, CAE, said. “ASAE believes that existing city ordinances that protect LGBTQ individuals in public spaces should be left alone. We support laws that are designed to protect Texans from harm, but not at the expense of marginalizing individuals’ rights.”

The Dallas Observer reported that 66 witnesses spoke against the bill, while six spoke in favor. Business groups including the Texas Association of Business and Keep Texas Open for Business, along with convention authorities in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and other major metropolitan areas, also oppose the bill and efforts by state Republicans to change social policy in Texas.

“You do not want to tie the hands of Texas employers on their ability to recruit talent,” Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace told the committee.

This week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott came out in support of House Bill 2899. Abbott called the legislation a “thoughtful proposal” and said he would work with both chambers to pass the bill. This was the first time Abbott stated his support publicly for a measure on this issue.

The hearing this week came on the heels of the release of a study from the Perryman Group showing that legislation aimed at banning transgender people from public bathrooms in Texas could cost the state’s economy $3.3 billion per year and more than 35,000 jobs.

Ray Perryman, lead economist for the Perryman Group, told the Dallas News that the study was based “on a very conservative methodology” and did not account for potential losses from international travel, business travel other than conventions, or concerts or sporting events that might be cancelled.

Mary Kate Cunningham

Mary Kate Cunningham is vice president, public policy at ASAE. More »

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