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Businesses Opposed to SB 6 Contributed to Sponsors’ Campaigns

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Some are concerned that Texas could lose major sporting events, similar to this year’s Super Bowl in Houston, if the controversial SB 6 bathroom bill becomes law. (wellesenterprises/iStockphoto)
Some are concerned that Texas could lose major sporting events, similar to this year’s Super Bowl in Houston, if the controversial SB 6 bathroom bill becomes law. (wellesenterprises/iStockphoto)
 By Mark Richardson - Producer, Contact
April 3, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas – Public records show several businesses that publicly oppose Senate Bill 6, the so-called "bathroom bill" in the Texas Legislature, have contributed thousands of dollars to the bill's Republican sponsors.

Alex Kotch, an independent investigative reporter for the website Rewire, says 70 businesses signed a letter condemning the bill that would bar transgender people from using the restroom of their choice.

The businesses responded to a Texas Association of Business study that said the state could lose $8 billion or more if SB 6 becomes law.

The association's executive director, Chris Wallace, warns that simply cannot happen.

"In Texas, we need to avoid the predicament that North Carolina's in right now, and just completely reject SB 6 and any amendments that are related to SB 6 in terms of discriminatory-type language,” he stresses. “It's just simply bad for business."

The bill has passed the Texas Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it a priority. But it could face an uphill battle in the House, where Speaker Joe Straus opposes it.

Rewire reports that political action committees for 12 of the letter's signers, including such companies as Dow Chemical, Hewlett Packard and United Continental, contributed $185,000 to 15 GOP senators listed as sponsors of SB 6.

The Texas Association of Business study predicts if the bill becomes law, the state's economy, particularly the sports, tourism, and entertainment sectors, could lose convention business and face boycotts of major events.

Wallace says TAB members are likely to be more discerning in the future about which candidates they support.

"I think it's just business as usual,” he states. “In the past, there's been a kind of 'friendly incumbent rule,' but we're going to take a new look at all of that, and that may not be the case moving forward."

The North Carolina General Assembly voted to repeal and replace its bathroom bill last Friday. Lawmakers there were criticized for not going far enough in their replacement legislation to ensure the rights of transgender people.

Rewire obtained data for its story from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

This story was produced with original reporting from Alex Kotch in partnership with Rewire.

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