Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, praised the more than 1,200 member businesses of the Greater Houston Partnership Tuesday for their opposition to the so-called “bathroom bill” that was under debate in the Legislature this summer.
Straus went against party lines in his opposition to the bill, as both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick favored the legislation, going so far as to call a special legislative session in order to get the bill passed. The bill passed in the Senate, but failed in the House.
The bill would have required people to use the public restroom designated for the gender specified on their birth certificates, regardless of their current gender identity. Proponents stated the bill was intended as a protective measure against sexual predators, while opponents claimed it would discriminate against transgender individuals.
Business leaders across Texas also opposed the bill, fearing it would limit opportunities for out-of-state investment and tourism. During the special legislative session, the Greater Houston Partnership sent a letter to Gov. Abbott claiming the bill “risks harming Texas’ reputation and impacting the state’s economic growth and ability to create new jobs.”
While introducing Harris County Judge Ed Emmett prior to a speech at NRG Center, Straus hailed the group’s initiative in defeating the bill.
“When the business community in Texas needed to be heard this year, the Greater Houston Partnership took the lead and spoke up and Texas is a better place because of it,” he told the group.
In a speech earlier this month to a Dallas tourism group, Straus warned the issue may come up in the next legislative session.
“If voters send a signal that we don’t mind when an issue like the bathroom bill is front and center, then I’m sure it will be back on the agenda again in 2019. The stakes are too high to spend another election cycle fighting over emotional issues meant only to divide us.”