ASAE is joining a coalition of business and tourism interests in voicing concern that a pending bill in the Texas Legislature would weaken protections for LGBTQ workers in the state.

At issue is a proposed bill (Senate Bill 15) that would prohibit cities from requiring private companies to offer paid sick leave to their employees. The bill was supported by a lot of businesses until a recent rewrite of the bill stripped language that explicitly said the proposed state law would not supersede local nondiscrimination ordinances.

Unlike 21 other states and the District of Columbia, Texas employment discrimination laws don’t explicitly protect LGBTQ workers. But six major Texas cities – Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Plano and San Antonio – have their own nondiscrimination protections in place. LGBTQ advocates are concerned that SB15 could subject some Texans to discriminatory employment practices.

Texas lawmakers had largely steered clear of contentious social issues this session after debating a highly controversial “bathroom bill” two years ago. That bill was opposed by ASAE and many other business groups because it would have invalidated public accommodation rights for LGBTQ Texans. The bill failed to pass during the 2017 legislative session and during a special summer session.

ASAE has joined Texas Welcomes All, a coalition of business groups and convention and tourism leaders, in opposing SB15 as worded. The bill has been advanced by the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee and is now eligible to be taken up by the full Senate.