AUSTIN, TEXAS – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is expected on Thursday to introduce legislation to limit public restroom access for transgender people, despite warnings from a business group that the measure would hurt the Texas economy because it was discriminatory.
Patrick, a Republican conservative Christian who guides the legislative agenda in the state Senate, has said his proposed “Privacy Protection Act” is a top legislative priority for the second most populous U.S. state.
The bill is one of several on tap for state legislatures this year that socially conservative backers say offer common sense protections against sexual predators. Critics say there is no evidence of that and the laws are designed to infringe on the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Patrick’s office has not released details of the bill, but he has been a supporter of only allowing access to public restrooms based on gender at birth rather than the gender with which a person identifies.
His office issued an advisory that he would announce the bill’s filing on Thursday afternoon.
North Carolina in March 2016 became the first state to enact a law that restricts bathroom access for transgender people. The law prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit and has been blamed for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses and the relocation of major sporting events from the state.
After a deal to repeal the measure in North Carolina collapsed in December, Patrick applauded the state for keeping its law on the books.
A major industry group, the Texas Association of Business, said a study it helped conduct showed similar legislation in Texas could result in economic losses ranging between $964 million to $8.5 billion for the state.
At the end of last year, four states had legislation limiting transgender bathroom rights that were set to be on the agenda when lawmakers convened in 2017. Republican leaders in other states said more such bills would be filed.
This week, similar legislation was filed in Virginia and Kentucky.