by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 06, 2017
As anticipated, Senate Bill 6, known as the Texas Privacy Act, has been filed by Texas State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), a move that is wholly supported by the state's Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The proposed legislation is similar to HB2, which was enacted in North Carolina last March; that state's legislature failed last month to repeal that bill, as had been promised by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory.
In announcing the bill, Patrick said in a statement: "The people of Texas elected us to stand up for common decency, common sense and public safety. This legislation codifies what has been common practice in Texas and everywhere else forever - that men and women should use separate, designated bathrooms. It is supported by an overwhelming majority of Texans including both Democrats and Republicans, Hispanics, African-Americans and Anglos, men and women.
"SB 6 also ensures that businesses have the freedom to determine their own bathroom policies and that no public school can institute a bathroom policy that allows boys to go in girls restrooms, showers and locker rooms and girls to go in boys restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
"This issue is not about discrimination -- it's about public safety, protecting businesses and common sense. I congratulate Sen. Kolkhorst for filing SB 6 and for her commitment to protecting the privacy of Texans and keeping them safe."
Texas business leaders started speaking out against the "bathroom bill" in December, knowing it would be brought before the legislature this session, which begins Jan. 10. The state's governing body, which meets only in odd-numbered years for 140 calendar days, might also consider a proposal to expand a religious-freedom bill to cover religious objectors to same-sex marriage.
Phillip Jones, president and CEO of VisitDallas, is ready to fight the measures for as long as it takes. "This proposed bill is not only a social issue, it's an economic issue," said Jones. "Planners should write, call and email lawmakers to tell them your companies don't support this legislation and that it would impact your ability to bring meetings to Texas. And if and when we need to make a public stand, be there and show your support."
Possible fallout could be heavy for Texas. Following the passage of HB2 in North Carolina, the governors of New York, Vermont and Washington, and the mayors of New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, and Seattle banned all nonessential travel to that state. Many organizations relocated events from North Carolina, including the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which will now be played in New Orleans. Had the law been rescinded, the NBA indicated it might have returned to Charlotte for the game in 2019. The NCAA also had pulled out of the state in the wake of HB2, and when news that the legislators did not rescind the bill, Bob Williams, NCAA senior vice president of communications, said, "the NCAA's decision to withhold championships from North Carolina remains unchanged."
AP has reported that the law has cost North Carolina hundreds of jobs and contributed to McCroy's re-election loss in November. Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat who is leaving his post as state attorney general for his new job, had declined to defend the state against a lawsuit that was been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union contesting the law's constitutionality.