by Sarah J.F. Braley | March 15, 2017
Tuesday evening, Senate Bill 6, the Texas version of a "bathroom bill" that would require people to use public restrooms that correspond with the gender that appears on their birth certificates, cleared the Texas Senate by a 21-10 vote, split along party lines except for one Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who voted in favor of the bill. A final vote in the state Senate will be taken, and then the legislation goes on to the state's House of Representatives.
According to the Houston Chronicle, SB 6 is not a priority for the House, particularly speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio). "Clearly, I'm not a fan of the bill that they're discussing, but I'm focused 100 percent on the House's priorities," the newspaper reported that Straus told reporters last week. "They have their agenda; we have ours. We'll worry about our agenda and making progress on some issues that I think are important to every Texan."
The bill, also known as the Texas Privacy Act, was introduced to the state's legislature in January by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). Texas businesses have been outspoken against the bill, citing economic losses incurred in North Carolina following the passage of a similar bill in March 2016.
Heads of local convention and visitors bureaus have been very vocal, speaking out against the bill in public forums, as well as in front of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee. Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio, told the committee that organizations already have indicated they would pull events from the city, representing a total estimated loss of $30 million in economic revenue. According to the San Antonio Express-News, those organizations include the NAACP and the American Library Association. Organizations that pulled events from North Carolina last year included the NCAA; that organization's big basketball tournament, known as March Madness, is scheduled to hold its Final Four games in San Antonio in 2018, an event that would probably be moved if the bill passes. Both the NBA and the NFL have said they would not consider the state for events such as the All-Star Game and the Super Bowl if the bill is enacted.