Big hurdles face Texas' 'bathroom bill' ahead of first vote

An architect of North Carolina's "bathroom bill" is now trying to help Texas pass a similar law that faces significant political hurdles despite support from top Republicans.

Texas lawmakers will debate the controversial bill on Tuesday. It's a bill critics say could hurt Houston's economy if it becomes law.

Right now, the head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau is getting ready to testify tomorrow in Austin. Mike Waterman is expected to say Houston could lose 100,000 hotel bookings if the bathroom bill goes through.

"We are going to make it even harder to attract and keep employees here," said an opponent to the bill, speaking at a rally in Austin.

It's one of the hottest debates before Texas lawmakers this year.

"The stories of any negative economic impact are just false narrative," said Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who is championing the bill.

Senate Bill 6 would require people to use public bathrooms based on their sex at birth.

Monday, North Carolina's Lt. Governor was in Austin adding his support and defending his state's economic record after a similar bill passed there.

"That most extreme impact equates to one-tenth of one percent of our annual GDP. That's the economic impact," said Lt. Governor Dan Forest of North Carolina.

What does that mean in dollars? In North Carolina in 2015, the GDP was around $500 billion dollars. One-tenth of one percent of that would be $500 million.

While North Carolina leaders say, the economy is still growing, companies like Paypal have chosen not to expand, and the NBA pulled this year's All Star Game. Facebook and Google are among dozens of big companies opposing the measure.

Back home in Texas, top tourism leaders from across the state are already chiming in.

"We've heard from the NFL, we've heard from the NBA, we've heard from the NCAA, that they will not bring events to Texas, if this legislation is passed," said Phillip Jones, President of Visit Dallas.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott also hasn't publicly endorsed the idea, even though he's criticized the NFL for warning that Texas could be overlooked for future Super Bowls if the measure passes.

The committee hearing on the bathroom bill is set for tomorrow. That's when testimony from both sides will begin.

© 2017 Associated Press


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