Statewide transgender bathroom bill could prove costly for business

- When Houstonians said "no" to bathroom access of choice for Transgender Texans they were unswayed by the warnings of economic blowback.

Now that a measure to strictly limit toilet access statewide will be considered by the legislature, opponents of the bill are presenting hard numbers.

A study released by the normally conservative Texas Association of Business projects the Lone Star State could lose as many as 185,000 jobs and $8.5 billion worth of business activity.

"One, difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. Two, reduced ability to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. Three, declines in our thriving travel and tourism industry," said Chris Wallace, TAB's President.

But Houston Senator Paul Bettencourt says the methodology of the TAB study is deeply flawed and based on what he calls "preposterous" assumptions about a bill that has yet to be written.

"It is flat wrong. It is impossible to come to that conclusion. It's hog wash. I'm throwing this study in the trash can," said Bettencourt.

Not preposterous at all, say equal rights advocates who contend the projected Texas losses were based on North Carolina and other states who suffered economically after passing bathroom bills.

"The data is showing us we are going to lose billions of dollars, lose jobs and this notion that we are Texas and we are better than everybody else is not going to carry through. We need to pay attention and take care of all Texans," said Lou Weaver of Equality Texas.

Bettencourt sees talk like that as a scare tactic doomed to failure.

 "We need to recognize the obvious. Texans don't want men in women's restrooms. They just don't," said Bettencourt.

The transgender bathroom bill has been listed as a priority by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick while Texas House Speaker Joe Strauss says the measure is "not his most urgent concern."

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