Latest News

Breaking News: May 17, 2017 – Lt. Gov. Threatening Special Session Over Bathroom Bill

Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference to threaten to try to force a special session by holding up passage of a sunset safety net bill if the Texas House does not pass a bathroom bill as well as SB 2 (property tax reform). Patrick referenced both SB 6 and HB 2899, noting that the language in either bathroom bill would be acceptable to him as a bill or amendment.

Only the Governor can call a special session, and only the failure to pass a budget would unavoidably trigger a special session. Otherwise, a special session is at Governor Abbott’s discretion, but the failure to pass sunset safety nets could create more pressure to call one. Abbott would also make the decision on which additional issues – including a bathroom bill – would be considered in such a session. While the official last day of session is May 29, in reality there are about 10 days left for the House and Senate to get bills passed.

What we know about the Governor:

  • Abbott has avoided direct endorsement of a bathroom bill for more than a year.
  • This month, he finally weighed in definitively, calling for a bathroom bill to reach his desk.
  • When asked today about Patrick’s press conference Abbott reiterated that he believes that a bathroom bill can be passed by May 29 (the last day of the regular session).

From the perspective of the Texas economy, a few key points:

  • A special session would cost taxpayers $800,000 or more.
  • A special session, on its own, could also further chill interest from meeting planners and other tourism entities, corporate site selectors and talented workers.
  • The passage of a bathroom bill would trigger significant economic damage in Texas.
  • Texans know how damaging a bathroom bill could be. While Lt. Gov. Patrick states that a majority of Texans want a bathroom bill to pass, a recent independent poll shows that less than half of Texans of both parties think that passing a bathroom bill is “important.”

SPEAK OUT: It’s imperative that you contact Governor Abbott with your opinion, as a business owner or leader, at 512-463-1782 or via this link. Letters can be mailed to:

Office of the Governor
State Insurance Building
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701

Update: May 15, 2017

We’d like to thank all our partners and supporters for their tireless efforts to defeat House Bill 2899. The House State Affairs Committee did not act on HB 2899 before the deadline, which some were hoping would serve as an alternative to Senate Bill 6, the “bathroom bill.” Thursday, May 11, was the last day that House-originated legislation could receive tentative approval in the lower chamber, so HB 2899 is dead.

This is one big milestone accomplished, but we need to stay vigilant on any attempts to amend another bill with “bathroom bill” language.

The Senate passed SB 6 on March 14 and it still has time to resurface. The House has until May 20 to report Senate bills out of House committees. If SB 6 is not voted out of its House committee, the bill officially dies.

Significant Deadlines:
Saturday, May 20
Last day for House committees to report Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions

10 p.m., Sunday, May 21
Deadline for the House to distribute its last House daily calendar with Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions

Midnight, Tuesday, May 23
Last day for the House to consider second-reading Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions on the daily or supplemental calendar

Midnight, Wednesday, May 24
Last day for Senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on second or third reading

Update: April 24, 2017

Texas Welcomes All and Keep Texas Open for Business (KTOB) hosted a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday, April 18. Women business leaders, moms, religious leaders and sexual assault experts gathered to speak against Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), House Bill 2899 (HB 2899) and other pieces of discriminatory legislation.

More than 50 people gathered to deliver a clear message: discriminatory legislation will hurt Texas’ economy and businesses, and does nothing to protect women and children.

Speakers at the press conference included:

  • Marianne Malina, President, GSD&M
  • Annette Burris-Clay, President & CEO of Texas Association Against Sexual Assault
  • Felicia Miller, Chief Human Resource Officer at Tenet Healthcare
  • Diane Crawford, Global Commercial Operations Director, Celanese Corporation
  • Sally Larrabee, Safety Director, Process Control Outlet
  • Julie Chase, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Austin CVB
  • Deirdre Walsh, Director of Communications at Silicon Labs
  • Joanna Day, Dripping Springs mother of three
  • Rev. Kimberly Rogers, LPC, Associate Pastor Central Presbyterian Church, Austin
  • Kate Andrade, mother of two
  • Sarah Meredith, millennial tech employee

Companies represented at the press conference included: Silicon Labs, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tenet Health Care, IBM, HP, Intel, Celanese, TechNet, RetailMeNot, VisitDallas, San Antonio CVB, Facebook, Amazon, Dow, Dell, Capital One, Salesforce, AMD, SXSW, C3, Alamo Drafthouse, and GSD&M.

The following day, the House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on HB 2899. Approximately 369 people registered against the bill, with more than 60 people testifying before the committee at Wednesday’s hearing. In comparison, only 18 people registered in support of this bill. The committee did not vote on HB 2899, and it is currently pending in the committee.

Committee Chairman Byron Cook (Corsicana) commented several times that he would have liked to see more businesses – especially big businesses – testifying at the hearing. This might be interpreted as an invitation for businesses to release op-eds and public statements with their positions on this type of legislation.

Information on HB 2899: This bill would strip non-discrimination protections from veterans, elderly people, pregnant women, and LGBT people (including students) when using restrooms or changing rooms. It would prohibit cities and school districts from passing laws and policies that would protect those groups, but it would allow cities and schools to write policy that mandates discrimination in restroom use.

Update: March 31, 2017

Yesterday, the North Carolina General Assembly repealed and replaced HB 2, the “bathroom law” that has caused significant economic losses in that state. The new bill, HB 142, was rushed through in the shadow of the NCAA’s deadline for North Carolina: repeal HB 2 now or lose championship bids through 2022.

We’re hoping this is a wakeup call to Texas legislators. Clearly, bathroom bills are bad for business. While NC’s replacement bill does not go far enough in banning discrimination, we do believe that the repeal is a clear refutation of statements made by some Texas leaders that bathroom bills do not cause economic harm.

This is bad legislation, and North Carolina was forced to repeal their law in the face of economic losses. Let’s be clear, if Texas’ SB 6 is passed meeting planners and major events will take their business elsewhere and Texas can expect a significant negative economic impact. They did it in North Carolina, and they will do it in Texas.

We do not want to follow in North Carolina’s footsteps. Texas embraces diversity and inclusiveness, and we’re working to make sure our state stays open to business for all.

Update: March 20, 2017

Last week, the Texas Senate voted 21 to 10 to advance Senate Bill 6 (the bathroom bill) to the House of Representatives. The vote came after a five-hour debate on the Senate floor and the bill now moves the House, where our opposition efforts will continue.

This decision is only one step in the process and we now prepare for the next battle in the legislature; we are working to make sure this bill does not become law. We have been and will continue to meet with Texas Representatives, and we’re encouraged by the reasonable and thoughtful response we’ve received.

We’re also encouraged that the Texas Welcomes All coalition is growing. Last week Meeting Professionals International (MPI) joined the fight against SB 6 and other discriminatory legislation in Texas.

Update: March 13, 2017

Last week, on March 7, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7 to 1 to advance Senate Bill 6 (the “bathroom bill”). Although more than 89 percent of public testimony was in opposition to the bill, it will now move for debate and vote in the Senate, and we expect the bill to pass and move to the Texas House of Representatives.

The Senate decision is only one step in the process and we now prepare for the next battle in the House. Be assured, the tourism industry and business leaders are working to make sure this bill does not become law. We have been and will continue to meet with Texas Representatives, and we’re encouraged by the reasonable and thoughtful response we’ve received.

We believe now, more than ever, it’s important for us to continue the fight against SB 6 and defeat this bill as it does not align with our economic objectives. Meeting planners and major events will take their business elsewhere if any discriminatory bills pass in our state, and Texas can expect a significant negative economic impact.

Texas embraces diversity and inclusiveness, and we’re working to make sure our state stays open to business for all.

Update: March 8, 2017

Early this morning, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7 to 1 to advance Senate Bill 6 (the “bathroom bill”). Although more than 89 percent of public testimony was in opposition to the bill, it will now move for debate and vote in the Senate. The Texas Welcomes All coalition is disappointed by this decision and we believe more than ever it’s important for us to continue the fight against SB 6 and discriminatory legislation in Texas.

Yesterday’s action does not change our trajectory or goals – to defeat this bill as it does not align with our economic objectives. Meeting planners and major events will take their business elsewhere if any discriminatory bills pass in our state, and Texas can expect a significant negative economic impact.

Today’s decision is only one step in the process and we now prepare for the next battle in the Texas House of Representatives. Be assured, the tourism industry and business leaders are working to make sure this bill does not become law. We have been and will continue to meet with Texas Representatives, and we’re encouraged by the reasonable and thoughtful response we’ve received.

Texas embraces diversity and inclusiveness, and we’re working to make sure our state stays open to business for all.

Update: March 7, 2017

The Senate State Affairs Committee hears testimony on SB 6 today in Austin. The Texas Tribune is live streaming the event.

Yesterday afternoon, the Texas Welcomes All campaign joined a coalition of small and large businesses at the State Capitol in speaking out against SB 6. Representatives from SXSW, C3, Alamo Drafthouse, Silicon Labs, VisitDallas and the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau were in attendance. Read the press release.

Update: Feb. 27, 2017

The Texas Welcomes All coalition continues to grow, adding six new partners in the last week. Organizations joining the fight against SB 6 (the bathroom bill) and other discriminatory legislation detrimental to the Texas economy include:

Bishop Arts Theatre Center
Nasher Sculpture Center
North Dallas Chamber of Commerce
The Highland Dallas
The Sixth Floor Museum
Ultimate Ventures

Thank you to all our supporters, and we need your help to spread the word. Please share the Texas Welcomes All message – that Texas is inclusive and we are open for business to everyone – with your constituents.

On Feb. 22, the Trump administration reversed guidelines to protect transgender students in schools previously issued by the Justice Department and the Department of Education. Texas Welcomes All is disappointed by this decision, and we want to be clear that this action does not change our trajectory or goals – to defeat SB 6, as it is discriminatory and does not align with our state and organizations’ economic objectives.

Meeting planners and major events will take their business elsewhere if any discriminatory bills pass in our state, and Texas can expect a significant negative economic impact.

Update: Feb. 21, 2017

This week, Texas Welcomes All is pleased to welcome a host of new partners, from Dallas’ diversity chambers of commerce to major Texas arts organizations. As word spreads about SB6 (the bathroom bill) and the expected negative economic impact to the state, support for Texas Welcomes All continues to grow. New partners include:

AT&T Performing Arts Center
Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce
Dallas Theater Center
Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce
International Association of Venue Managers
North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce
Sammons Center for the Arts

Additionally, last week the NBA joined the NFL in speaking out against SB6. NBA spokesman Mike Bass says an environment where people are treated “fairly and equally” weighs heavily in deciding host locations. Texas has hosted three NBA All-Star Games since 2006, events the state stands to lose if SB6 passes.

Update: Feb. 14, 2017

Today more than 140 musicians and artists have released an open letter to Texas leaders asking them to oppose any anti-LGBTQ legislation, including SB 6 (the bathroom bill). Released by Equality Texas, signers include Alicia Keys, Amy Poehler, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Cyndi Lauper, Emma Stone, Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Lawrence, Jimmy Kimmel, Juanes, Julianne Moore, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Sting and many more. Signatories with Texas roots include Sarah Jaffe, Girl In A Coma, Natalie Maines, St. Vincent, FEA and Guster.

Read the full letter here.

The letter’s signers have pledged to do “everything within our power to make sure all of our fans, crews, and fellow artists feel safe and welcome, wherever we go.” These artists have spent time in countless towns and cities across the state and want to let Texas leaders know that the creative community is watching.

Update: Feb. 13, 2017 

Last week, the National Football League (NFL) released a statement in opposition to proposed legislation SB 6 in Texas (the bathroom bill).

“We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events,” the statement said.

The NFL’s statement warning Texas about the negative implications of SB 6 confirms what the Texas Welcomes All coalition has been saying since this bill was announced. The state stands to lose major events resulting in a significant economic loss and jobs if this discriminatory legislation becomes law. That’s why the coalition is growing stronger and working to defeat this bill.

Thank you for supporting the Texas Welcomes All campaign. We continue to share the message that Texas is inclusive and that we are open for business to everyone.

Update: Feb. 6, 2017

Thank you for supporting Texas Welcomes All, a coalition of businesses, organizations and tourism industry leaders who aim to showcase the inclusive nature of Texas and its residents by sharing the message that Texas is open for business to everyone.

The campaign continues to welcome new partners daily, including the convention and visitor bureaus representing Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving and San Antonio as well as the Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (TACVB).

Tourism and business leaders continue to meet with legislators in Austin to educate them on the devastating impact the Bathroom Bill, and any discriminatory legislation, could have on the Texas economy – Texas Competes estimates the Bathroom Bill could cost the state $8.5 billion in GDP and 185,000 jobs. We’re working hard to continue the positive momentum we’re building at the Capitol, but we need your help.