Late last night a Texas House committee held a hearing on an amended version of House Bill 2899, legislation impacting the use of bathrooms in the state. House Republicans said this bill was intended as a less restrictive option to SB 6, the Texas Senate’s controversial bathroom bill. The amended House bill, however, encountered heavy opposition from critics who said the bill is so broadly written that it could strip anti-discrimination protections from not just LGBTQ people but from other groups such as veterans or the elderly. The Dallas Observer reported 66 witnesses spoke against the bill while 6 spoke in favor. ASAE opposed the legislation.

Business groups including the Texas Association of Business, Keep Texas Open for Business, along with convention authorities in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and other major metropolitan areas, oppose efforts by state Republicans to change social policy in Texas.

“ASAE does not support ongoing efforts in the Texas Legislature to change social policy in Texas. We fail to see the need for this process and this debate to continue. ASAE believes that existing city ordinances that protect LGBTQ individuals in public spaces should be left alone. We support laws that are designed to protect Texans from harm, but not at the expense of marginalizing individuals’ rights,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham, IV, FASAE, CAE.

This week Texas Governor Greg Abbott came out in support of House Bill 2899. Abbott called the legislation a “thoughtful proposal” and said he would work with both chambers to pass the bill. This was the first time Gov. Abbott gave his support publically for the issue.

The hearing this week came on the heels of the release of a study showing legislation aimed at banning transgender people from public bathrooms in Texas could cost the state’s economy $3.3 billion per year and more than 35,000 jobs.

Ray Perryman, lead economist for the Perryman Group, told the Dallas News that the study was based “on a very conservative methodology” and did not account for potential losses from international travel, business travel other than conventions, or concerts or sporting events that might be cancelled.