In March of last year, North Carolina was thrown into the spotlight with the passing of House Bill Two, better known as, “The Bathroom Bill.” Now lawmakers in Texas, Kentucky and Virginia are following in North Carolina’s footsteps.
The bills are similar to HB2 where sex is defined as the biological sex on one’s birth certificate and that citizens are required to use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth certificate. In Virginia, the bill also requires school administrators to notify parents if their child comes out as transgender. However, the Virginia bill seems likely to fail. A similar bill died out last year in the Virginia House of Delegates and with a Democratic governor, the bill’s chances of success seem slim. In Kentucky, the bill seems likely to stop at Republican Governor Matt Bevin.
“Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom?” Bevin said in response to being asked about the bill. Similar to Virginia, a bathroom bill also failed to pass in the Kentucky Senate last year and GOP leaders have decided to focus on economic rather than social issues this year. So far the Senate has passed a right to work bill, a bill to limit constructions wages and is looking to pass tax reform. A bathroom bill that could bring severe economic backlash seems to be towards the bottom of the legislature agenda.
In Texas however, the bathroom bill is gaining considerable momentum. Perhaps its strongest ally is Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Although the bill has many supporters, its strongest opposition comes from business owners.
After HB2 was passed in North Carolina last year there was strong economic backlash. HB2 has cost North Carolina between $77 million to $201 million dollars according to Politifact. The Texas Association of Business announced in December that if Texas passed such a law, the state could lose anyway from $964 million to $8.5 billions dollars and more than a hundred thousand jobs.
Texas Republicans and business leaders are usually on the same side but this bill has deeply divided the two. Tourist groups have also joined together with Texas business groups to try to stop the bathroom bill worried that it could stop tourism and bring Texas economic sanctions.
In reaction to the passing of HB2 in North Carolina, musicians have cancelled concerts and tournaments and games have been moved out of the state. Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick denies however that his state would faced the same backlash and stated that North Carolina had one of the best economies in the country. Most recently, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus criticized the bill as it could potentially harm Texas’ economy. Straus’ standing reflects the strong divide Texas feels about the bill.
These bills have a long way to go before it become law and for now it seems like North Carolina will be alone in having an actual bathroom bill passed.
Photo Courtesy of Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune