Texas House to debate another ‘bathroom bill’ next week
Legislators in Texas are to debate a bathroom bill next week, despite massive criticism across the US of such pieces of legislation.
The measure is being pegged as one which is more “business friendly” than other proposed bills, and those passed in other states.
But similar to North Carolina’s partially repealed HB2, the bill would roll back and ban local ordinances protecting LGBT people against discrimination.
House Bill 2899 would stop cities or counties from passing anti-discrimination bills.
It is expected that the bill will be backed by the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s a bill that’s trying to strike a balance between all the interested parties,” Representative Ron Simmons, the bill’s sponsor, told The Dallas Morning News.
“It’s our belief that discrimination issues related to privacy should be handled at the state level.”
Texas only protects against discrimination based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age.
The Texas House Speaker has cast doubt on the future of a previous state’s proposed ‘bathroom bill’ HB6. The bill had passed in the Senate, but looks like it won’t see the light of day in the House.
State Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick earlier this year said moves to introduce such a bill as has proven catastrophic to states like North Carolina, would be a priority in the new legislative session.
The bill, a version of which has caused North Carolina to lose business, sporting events and music events, would stop transgender Texans from using any bathroom which does not correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificate.
Despite being called a priority by Patrick, the bill could threaten to split the Republican party, which controls the three branches of Government in Texas.
House Speaker Joe Straus has again cast doubt on the measure, stopping short of calling the measure doomed.
Straus, who sets the agenda of the Republican-controlled legislature spoke at a University of Texas forum.
“I don’t feel a great deal of fervor to promote that bill in the House,” Straus said.
“I think we should be very careful about doing something that can make Texas less competitive,” he told the Texas Association of Business earlier this year.
North Carolina, which at the end of December failed to repeal HB2, lost out on the All Star NBA game for 2017, lost the NCAA regional games out of the state, and performances from Bruce Springsteen and other high profile musicians cancelled North Carolina performances.
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It has been estimated by Forbes that NC lost $600 million over six months because of its controversial legislation.
“Legislation to protect women’s privacy and business is essential to assure that sexual predators … will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers …,” a note from Patrick, applauding efforts to derail the repeal of HB2 read.
A press conference was held last month by the Association of Business, which announced the results of a study which estimated that 100,000 jobs and $8 billion in the state’s economy could be lost if Texas passes its own bathroom bill.
“The message from the Texas business community is loud and clear,” Chris Wallace, the organisation’s president said at the press conference.
“Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has not taken a side on the topic, and has not indicated whether he would sign a bill if it came to his desk.