Texas House Speaker Warns SB 6 Could Harm State’s Economy

January 18, 2017 • 3:35 pm
GOP House leader Joe Straus told Texas businesses “now is the time to speak up” against discriminatory anti-transgender proposal

WASHINGTON – Texas House Speaker Joe Straus offered his strongest rebuke yet of SB 6 today, comparing the discriminatory bill to North Carolina’s HB 2 law and noting that business leaders and policymakers he spoke with were “watching what happened in North Carolina, and they are not enthusiastic about getting that type of attention.” The Texas Tribune reported Straus’ comments, which he made at today’s Texas Association of Business (TAB) annual convention.

Straus indicated his aversion to discriminatory legislation late last year, noting that it was not his top priority. But today’s remarks to Texas’ business community mark his strongest condemnation to date. In his remarks, Straus said: “There’s been a lot of work put into our state’s economic success…. we want Texas to keep attracting the best and the brightest. One way to maintain our edge is to send the right signals about who we are.”

“Dan Patrick is knowingly inviting economic harm and damage to Texas if he continues to push forward with SB 6,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans. “Speaker Straus understands that maintaining and growing Texas’ economic success should be a top priority for lawmakers; and he clearly understands that debating discrimination hurts not only the state’s brand, but also the hardworking Texans whose lives will be impacted by the economic backlash this discriminatory bill will unleash. The business community and now Speaker Straus himself are making it increasingly clear that nothing good will come from continuing to pursue discrimination.”

Opposition to SB 6 is growing by the day – major convention and visitors bureaus including Visit Dallas, the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Austin City Council, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, Plano Chamber, and the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association oppose the legislation; as do professional organizations including the Professional Convention Management Association, the International Association of Exhibitions & Events, and the Center for Association Leadership.

Businesses including Apple, Celanese, Dell, Dow Chemical, Fidelity Investments, HP, IBM, Intel, Legacy Community Health, Salesforce, SXSW, and TechNet also oppose the legislation. Many businesses are speaking out through the growing Keep Texas Open for Business coalition, spearheaded by TAB. Late last year, Keep Texas Open for Business released a study warning that anti-LGBT, discriminatory bills like SB 6 could cost Texas up to $8.5 billion in lost revenue and nearly 200,000 lost jobs.

Speaker Straus, who represents the San Antonio region, said one of the many reasons he opposed SB 6 was because of his concern that the discriminatory bill would impact the NCAA’s Final Four tournament, slated to take place in the city next year. Earlier this week, a new economic impact study found that the Final Four was slated to bring $135 million in revenue and more than 70,000 out-of-town visitors to San Antonio. But Charlotte, North Carolina, lost a series of NCAA tournaments – and millions in revenue – after HB 2 became law.

Freedom for All Americans is working with our partners at Keep Texas Open for Business and Texas Competes to stop discriminatory bills from advancing in the Lone Star State. More than 1,100 businesses big and small have signed the Texas Competes pledge so far, affirming their support for a Texas that remains economically competitive and vibrant.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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