Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick has been threatening Texas with the introduction of an economy-hobbling discrimination bill targeting transgender people and their access to public bathrooms since November, despite protests and reasonable data exhibiting what a terrible idea this is.
The Guardian reports that Patrick’s bill was introduced by legislators on Thursday and, as feared, it is very similar to North Carolina’s notorious HB 2. Titled Senate Bill 6, the new law would require anyone in a public building, like a school or courthouse, to use facilities in accordance with their “biological sex” as it’s stated on a birth certificate.
The bill would also stop local governments from passing any anti-discrimination laws that would prevent private businesses from adopting similar policies, and would also protect those businesses from being denied contracts due to their bathroom rules. The penalties for crimes committed in bathrooms would also increase, and all these rules would go into affect in September.
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight. The forces of fear and misinformation will pull out all the stops, both in Texas and nationally,” Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said at a press conference in Austin. “You can mark today as the day that Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no’. The privacy and safety of Texans is our first priority, not political correctness.”
Aside from the objections one would expect over the bigotry and impracticality inherent in this bill, the economic repercussions for Texas if it’s passed could be very damaging. The state’s chamber of commerce warned in 2016 that if a law similar to HB 2 were passed in Texas, it could lead to a loss between $964 million and $8.5 billion, and an estimated end to 185,000 jobs. At the announcement of the bill, however, Patrick dismissed these concerns as “fake news,” despite the fact that North Carolina did lose money when many refused to work with the state in protest:
“If you look at all the states in the country that have the most robust economies, they are states almost without exception that do not allow men into ladies’ rooms. But many of the states at the bottom of the pile, where their economies are suffering, have different policies,” Patrick said, adding that North Carolina is “doing just fine”.
Patrick is not the only Republican rushing to pass a discriminatory bathroom bill as Donald Trump’s presidency looms days into our future. On Wednesday, Virginia legislator Robert G. Marshall filed the “Physical Privacy Act,” also intended to restrict transgender people’s access to the bathrooms in line with their gender identity. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists five other states with similar bills pending for their 2017 legislative sessions, including Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Washington. In Virginia, at least, the democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, pledged to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk, saying, “Just as HB2 has hurt North Carolina, this proposal would harm our on-going efforts to bring jobs to Virginia.”