Study: Anti-gay, transgender laws could cost Texas $8.5 billion


Highlights

Influential business group will lead effort opposing bills targeting gay, transgender rights.

Proposed legislation could cost Texas economy $8.5 billion, 185,000 jobs, study concludes.

Setting the stage for one of the most contentious debates awaiting next year’s legislative session, the state’s leading business group released a report Tuesday warning that bills targeting gay and transgender rights could severely hinder the Texas economy.

The Texas Association of Business study concluded that, if passed, such proposed laws could cost the state economy up to $8.5 billion a year and threaten 185,000 jobs. The state’s travel and tourism industry would be particularly hard hit by canceled sporting events and conventions, the study said.

“These are conservative projections based on hard data that tracks what is happening in other states,” Chris Wallace, president of the business group, said during a Capitol news conference.

“Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors,” Wallace said. “We cannot slam the door on the Texas miracle of openness, competitiveness, economic opportunity and innovation.”

With its economic impact study and Tuesday’s promise to vigorously lobby against bills targeting gay and transgender rights, the Texas Association of Business — typically a strong supporter of GOP initiatives — has placed itself in direct opposition to many of the Legislature’s most socially conservative Republican leaders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

RELATED: No transgender bathroom law, Texas businesses urge GOP

With the legislative session set to begin Jan. 10, Republican lawmakers have proposed banning transgender-friendly bathrooms; repealing city ordinances that protect gay, lesbian and transgender residents from housing and employment discrimination; and allowing businesses, individuals and government employees to refuse to serve gay couples based on religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

Patrick, in particular, has made it one of his top 10 legislative priorities to pass a bill that would stop transgender Texans from using bathrooms and locker rooms that conform to their gender identity.

A Patrick spokesman called the study “misinformation and fear-mongering” over a bill that has yet to be filed.

“In fact, the Women’s Privacy and Business Protection Act that the lieutenant governor intends to support will assure that sexual predators, like those who exploit the internet, will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers and that businesses are not forced by local ordinances to allow men in women’s restrooms and locker rooms,” spokesman Alejandro Garcia said.

A phone and internet survey of 626 Texas voters, commissioned by Patrick’s campaign committee in early November, found that 69 percent supported “passing a state law that would make it illegal for men to enter in a public women’s restroom, locker room or shower in order to assure women have privacy and can feel safe.”

That support wasn’t affected by fears of boycotts or economic impact, Patrick’s survey found.

But, pointing to the economic impact study conducted by St. Edward’s University for the business association, Wallace said proposed legislation targeting transgender and gay Texans would make it difficult to recruit and retain talented workers to Texas and discourage small and large businesses from relocating or expanding in the state.

“We now face overwhelming data about the risk of damage to the economy and reputation of our great state resulting from legislation that would allow for discrimination,” he said.

NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX: Click here to get our Morning Headlines email

The success of the state’s technology industry, which tends to attract workers who favor inclusion, is particularly susceptible to laws that can be viewed as discriminatory, said Caroline Joiner, executive director of Texas for TechNet, a network of the nation’s leading senior tech executives.

“It is not overexaggerating to say that the tech community in Texas is locked in a war for talent, competing globally to attract and retain the best and brightest,” Joiner said during the Capitol news conference. “For our long-term growth and competitiveness, Texas employers cannot afford to give workers a reason to look elsewhere.”

Duff Stewart, chief executive of the Austin-based GSD&M advertising company, said the legislative proposals would harm his business and others like it.

“Should Texas be perceived as a hostile work environment, it would hinder our ability to attract and retain the kind of talent that makes up our unique city and allows us to deliver the creativity that we do,” he said.

The Texas Association of Business, which bills itself as the state’s chamber of commerce and includes more than 2,800 member businesses, also unveiled the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition of companies that will lead opposition to “discriminatory” bills.

The 15-member coalition, with more expected to join, includes Apple, IBM, Intel and Celanese Corp.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Crowd tried to save driver in fatal fiery crash, witness says
Crowd tried to save driver in fatal fiery crash, witness says

When a car slammed into a utility pole and burst into flames Tuesday morning, Scott Dietert could see from his western Travis County apartment as smoke filled the vehicle. It was so thick the he couldn’t see through the windows, he said. Dietert said several people crowded around the car, frantically trying to see if someone was inside. &ldquo...
Who pays when electric rental scooters cause damage? Maybe you
Who pays when electric rental scooters cause damage? Maybe you

An Austin man is suing an electric scooter rental company after he says his car was damaged in a hit-and run. Michael Fuchs has filed a petition in small claims court for $3,000 damages after he said his vehicle was side-swiped by one of the devices. About 7:45 p.m. on July 30, Fuchs said he was in his Mazda 3 stopped at the light at the South First...
REWARD FOR INFO: Men steal guns, jewelry from Austin pawn shop, feds say
REWARD FOR INFO: Men steal guns, jewelry from Austin pawn shop, feds say

Two men on Monday robbed a South Austin pawn shop, threatening an employee with a sledgehammer and breaking display cases, according to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The men stole five pistols and over $6,000 in jewelry, officials said.   The feds are offering a reward of up to $4,000 for information...
27-year-old shot dead in San Marcos’ first killing of 2018, police say
27-year-old shot dead in San Marcos’ first killing of 2018, police say

San Marcos police are investigating the city’s first homicide of the year after a 27-year-old man was found dead at an apartment complex early Tuesday, officials said. Medics and police responded about 2 a.m. to the Park North Condos apartment complex in the 1600 block of Aquarena Springs Drive, just off Interstate 35 near Texas State University...
Hispanic civil rights group ‘suspends’ affiliation with Southwest Key
Hispanic civil rights group ‘suspends’ affiliation with Southwest Key

Hispanic civil rights group UnidosUS this week suspended its affiliation with Austin-based Southwest Key Programs, as some of its workers face allegations they abused migrant children in facilities the organization runs. One former worker at a Mesa, Ariz., facility is accused of performing sex acts on two boys and molesting six others between August...
More Stories