Texas businesses launch million-dollar ad campaign against bathroom bill
Cowboys’ bid to host NFL draft could be at risk
July 24, 2017
Updated: July 24, 2017 10:56pm
AUSTIN – Public pressure from dozens of tech companies, airlines and the tourism industry didn’t do much to slow the Texas Legislature’s march to pass a new bathroom bill during its special session.
So now business groups are turning to something that might give them a little more influence with the Legislature: football.
While the National Football League has not come out in opposition to the new bathroom regulation legislation, that is not stopping the Texas Association of Business from running new radio ads that warn of the potential reaction from the league. In the one-minute ad airing as part of a $1 million radio campaign in North Texas, a narrator warns that the Dallas Cowboys’ bid to host the NFL draft could be derailed if the bathroom bills become law.
“The NFL could reject Dallas’ bid to host the NFL draft,” says a moderator who only identifies herself as a Cowboys fan.
Later the moderator directs listeners to call contact their legislator through a TAB-backed website called KeepTexas-OpenforBusiness.org
The ads come as the Texas Senate was set to begin debating a new bathroom bill on the floor of the Senate this week. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has called for passing that and a host of other bills by the end of the week. Patrick had scheduled the bill among 16 bills to be heard in the Senate for a debate as early as Monday, but lawmakers did not get to that bill as other bills related to abortion restrictions and another to create a limited school voucher took up over five hours of debate.
If Senate Bill 3 becomes law it would require people to use the bathroom of the sex that is listed on their birth certificates and bars local governments or school districts from deviating from that rule. Critics say the language would make life harder for transgender people who identify with the sex opposite of what is on their birth certificate.
But supporters of the legislation say they are trying to protect the privacy of women and girls in restrooms. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said sexual predators could claim to be transgender to get into bathrooms unless the state steps in.
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Kolkhorst’s bill also would bar transgender students from competing in scholastic sports as women if their birth certificates indicate they were born male.
NCAA boycott in N.C.
Similar bathroom bills, like one passed in North Carolina in 2016, have provoked boycotts. After that bill passed, the NCAA announced it was boycotting the state and the NBA announced it was moving the annual basketball all-star game. This year, North Carolina amended that law to end the backlash.
Neither the NFL or Dallas Cowboys have warned of a boycott of Texas themselves. But after Super Bowl LI in Houston earlier this year, an NFL spokesman said, “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.”
Last week, business groups said Texas has already lost $66 million in conventions just over the prospect of the bill becoming law and fear the economic damage will be devastating if SB 3 passes.
“The bathroom bill distracts from the real challenges we face and would result in terrible economic consequences – on sporting events, talent, on tourism, on investment, on growth, and on small businesses,” said Jeff Moseley, CEO of the Texas Association of Business.
“That’s why TAB and the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition are investing heavily in radio ads in D-FW and focusing on potentially losing the NFL Draft and remain steadfastly opposed tothis unnecessary legislation.”
Although the bill was listed as one of 16 items on the Senate’s ambitious agenda on Monday, hopes of having time to debate it was dashed quickly. Lawmakers spent more than three hours in a recess to work on what Patrick called “scheduling” issues. Then lawmakers spent more than five hours in debates to get other bills set for final passage as early as Tuesday.
Other bills move along
Bills that won initial passage by the Senate on Monday and could have final passage Tuesday include:
Two bills dealing with abortion. SB 10 forces new reporting requirements for medical facilities that have “abortion complications.” Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, said the information will help “guarantee best medical practices.” And SB 73 requires abortion facilities to report to the state whether minors seeking abortions were there because of a medical emergency and whether they had a parent’s consent or had gone through the courts.
SB 1, which blocks cities and counties from raising their effective tax rate by more than 4 percent unless they first get a vote of the people.
SB 2, which creates a tax credit scholarship that would help subsidize private school tuition for students with disabilities – legislation critics say is a first step toward creating a more expanded school voucher program in Texas. Under the bill by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, the state would set $60 million aside to help special needs students have up to $10,000 to help pay for private schools.
SB16 which creates a commission to study Texas’ public school financing system and report potential options for changing it by Dec. 31, 2018.
SB 17, which requires the state to continue to study why Texas mothers are dying after giving birth at a rate higher than the rest of the nation.
The state already has a task force to dig into the mortality rates, but the bill by Kolkhorst extends that task until September 2023 and calls for a more detailed look into ways to combat postpartumdepression for economically disadvantaged women.