Unnecessary, Discriminatory Legislation is Causing Real-Time Damage to Texas Economy, Brand

TEXAS BUSINESS, TOURISM LEADERS URGE LAWMAKERS TO REJECT BATHROOM BILLS

AUSTIN, TEXAS–On the eve of the Special Session, Texas business leaders and tourism officials gathered at the State Capitol to urge lawmakers to once again reject efforts to pass a bathroom bill. Leaders from Texas Welcomes All and Keep Texas Open for Business said bathroom bills are unnecessary and are already bringing significant damage to the Texas economy and brand.  

“Wholly unnecessary and highly discriminatory legislation is threatening Texas’ reputation as open and welcoming for businesses and families. The pursuit of a bathroom bill represents a willful disregard for those vulnerable people and for businesses, workers and communities all across our state,” said Phillip Jones, President & CEO, VisitDallas. “The economic costs are already being felt and they cut to the heart of our tourism industry, our small businesses and everyday Texans working to make ends meet.”

According to data tracked by Texas Welcomes All, as of today, $66 million in conventions have already been cancelled in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Arlington. That’s almost 38,000 hotel room nights. An additional $205.2 million in conventions have told us they will cancel if a bathroom law passes, totaling another 167,000 hotel nights. And, a further $1.5 billion is on the line, with conventions and events that have said they’re on the fence, that’s another 423,000 hotel nights across the state.

An economic impact study conducted by AngelouEconomics and commissioned by the Texas Association of Business found that Texas risks losses of up to $5.6 billion statewide through 2026 if a bathroom bill is passed.

Not only will metro areas suffer losses, but by disrupting conference and events bookings in the state’s major metro areas, rural Texas communities are also poised to lose between $26.1 million and $52.5 million annually.

The negative impact on the Texas economy and state tax revenue will also impact the state’s ability to fund public education, build and maintain roads and ensure public safety.

“The Texas Association of Business supports and advances sound policies that strengthen the economic climate of our state. When businesses succeed, Texas communities and families succeed. The bathroom bill would result in terrible economic consequences – on talent, on tourism, on investment, on growth, and on small businesses. That’s why TAB and the business community remain steadfastly opposed to this unnecessary legislation,” said Jeff Moseley, CEO, Texas Association of Business.

“As a global company with over 10,000 employees here in Texas, IBM stands firmly against any discriminatory legislation that would hurt our ability to attract and retain talent in the state. Diversity and inclusion are longstanding values of IBM, and those values go hand-in-hand with innovation. We want to continue to see a world-class pipeline of innovators and thinkers who are excited to put down roots in Texas, and discriminatory measures like bathroom bills put that at risk. IBM is going straight to the legislature to make our case that these types of laws are bad for business and bad for Texas,” said Phil Gilbert, Global Head of Design, IBM.

“In my role with Dallas’ Domestic Violence Task Force, I am honored that survivors of violence – including sexual assault – trust us with their stories every day. To have the real trauma of these survivors misused in this bathroom debate is beyond the pale. Bathrooms are not the problem. We have real problems with sexual assault and with domestic abuse. Any attempt to draw the focus away from those problems and to bathrooms should be widely condemned,” said Jennifer Staubach Gates, VisitDallas Board Member and Dallas City Council Member.

“These bathroom bills won’t protect anyone, but they do put a vulnerable community of children and adults at risk. There are already laws on the books to address assault and wrongdoing in a bathroom, changing facility or anywhere else. Let’s use common sense and protect Texas freedom, stay true to our conservative ideals and avoid unnecessary economic harm to our state, our business and our families,” said Sally Larrabee, Human Resources and Safety Director, Process Control Outlet.

“This ongoing, manufactured bathroom bill debate has already damaged the Texas economy. The negative community impacts will be long-lasting, from hotel occupancy and state taxes to wage-earners and local businesses that benefit from the influx of tourists to our region,” said Scott Joslove, Texas Hotel and Lodging Association. “Our job is to speak up before damage happens, and to do everything in our power to protect the livelihoods and jobs of the Texans who make our great tourism economy what it is.”

Follow the bathroom bill issue on Twitter, #KeepTXOpen, and Facebook (@TexasWelcomesAll and @KeepTXOpen). We will also live stream the event for reporters across the state who can’t attend in person at the following URL: http://KeepTxOpen.org/Livestream

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