The battle in the Texas Legislature over the so-called “bathroom bill” (SB 3) may cost the state jobs with the chance to become home of a $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant.
Officials with automakers Toyota and Mazda, which would be cooperating to build the proposed plant, recently voiced opposition to legislation, like Texas’ bill, forcing transgender individuals to use public restrooms designated based on their gender assigned at birth, rather than for their gender identity.
Toyota previously built a plant in Mississippi, but, shortly after the plant was built, the state passed a “religious freedom” bill allowing businesses the right to discriminate against LGBT individuals.
Last year, Toyota released a statement providing the company “does not condone discrimination in any form and believes that inclusive treatment of all people is good for the workplace, marketplace and society as a whole.”
Toyota boasts a large presence in Texas, with a $1 billion plant in San Antonio and the company’s North American headquarters in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
With those connections already established, the Lone Star State seems like the logical location choice for the new plant; however, the company may be more hesitant to build its most visible new plant in a state supporting what other major corporations, like Toyota and the Dallas Stars, are describing as discriminatory practices.
The bill’s leading supporters, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, maintain SB 3 would protect women and children from potential sexual predators who would use the “cover” of transgenderism as a means to infiltrate public restrooms.
Despite the backlash, a spokesman for Governor Abbott said, even if the bathroom billl were to become law, businesses would still choose to come to Texas based on “what is best for the bottom line,” such as low taxes and lax regulations.
An example of the losses a state can suffer when such legislation is passed can be seen in North Carolina, after it lost out on many economic opportunities and tourist dollars, including the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which the league moved from Charlotte to New Orleans to protest the Tar Heel legislation on transgender bathroom access.