Powerful Texas Republican sees tough road
for 'bathroom bill'
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[March 25, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Republican
speaker of the Texas House of Representatives said on Friday a bill to
limit bathroom access for transgender people would face a tough time in
the chamber, where there are worries of an economic hit to the state if
it became law.
Speaker Joe Straus, who sets the Republican-dominated House's
legislative agenda, stopped short of saying the measure was doomed. He
made his remarks at a University of Texas forum in Austin.
"I donít feel a great deal of fervor to promote that bill in the House,"
Analysts expect Straus to send Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) to a committee led
by one of his political supporters, who will keep it tucked away. The
measure would then die when the current session ends in late May.
"Straus is signaling very clearly that SB 6 is dead," said Mark Jones, a
professor of political science at Rice University in Houston.
Straus reiterated his opposition to the legislation, which was approved
by the Republican-controlled state Senate this month on a mostly
The bill would require people to use restrooms in public schools and
government-run buildings that correspond with the gender on their birth
certificate rather than the gender with which they identify.
The speaker called it "manufactured and unnecessary."
The bill is one of several similar measures before various state
legislatures this year on the issue.
A similar law enacted a year ago in North Carolina prompted the
relocation of sporting events and economic boycotts that were estimated
to have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
[to top of second column]
Texas Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus bangs his
gavel signalling the passage of the HB2 bill restricting abortion
rights in Austin, Texas July 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone/File Photo
The Texas Association of Business, the state's largest employers'
group, has said such a law there would cost the state billions of
dollars in lost revenue a year.
The bill's main backer, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick,
has said it would keep sexual predators out of bathrooms and
changing rooms, and he has labeled as fiction reports that there
would be economic effects on the state.
Straus' San Antonio district is planning to host the NCAA men's
Final Four basketball championship next year. Economists forecast
the region could lose more than $200 million in revenue if the
legislation was passed and in response the NCAA were to relocate the
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Toni
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