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Straus Says Bathroom Bill Might Harm Economy

House Speaker warns that transgender restrictions could cost San Antonio $243 million.

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Sara D. Davis/Getty

In a speech to the leading business group opposing Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s transgender bathroom bill today, Speaker Joe Straus warned that such legislation could harm the Texas economy.

“I want to say from the outset that I believe those who supporting legislation relating to bathrooms are sincere,” Straus told the Texas Association of Business legislative conference. “The competition for jobs among the states and even countries is intense. Usually Texas competes pretty well. Entrepreneurs appreciate our pro-growth business climate here, and the people they employ appreciate our quality of life.”

Patrick’s bill, which he calls the privacy act, would prevent transgender people from using a gender-specific public restroom that does not match their sex at birth. Patrick said the bill is needed to prevent male sexual predators from entering women’s restrooms by claiming they are female. Opponents have labeled the effort discrimination against transgender Texans. Similar legislation in North Carolina led businesses to halt expansion plans and to cancel concerts and professional and collegiate sports events in the state. Straus’s hometown of San Antonio is supposed to host the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in 2018.

Straus said such legislation is a threat to economic growth in Texas. “Our economy is modern and diverse and dynamic. … Contrary to popular myth, it is not a miracle. And we want to continue that success. … One way to maintain our economic edge is to send the right signals about who we are.”

San Antonio officials estimate the Final Four will generate $234 million in local economic activity. “It’s not just about basketball tournaments or conventions. Many people where I’m from are concerned about anything that could slow down overall job creation.” His constituents see the North Carolina blowback and are “not enthusiastic about getting that type of attention,” Straus said. “We should be very careful about doing something that would make Texas less competitive for investments, jobs, and the highly skilled workforce needed to compete.”

A House speaker can, if he wants, direct his committee chairs to block legislation he does not like. Speaking to reporters after his remarks, Straus said he expected the House to have a “good conversation” about the bill. “We’ll talk to other House members and see how they feel.”

The audio file below has Straus talking about the House’s recently released budget outline as well as the bathroom bill.

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  • roadgeek

    If Straus doesn’t want it, then it won’t be happening. Folks ambivalent about their sexual identity may breathe a sigh of relief. You know, my wife and I were discussing this the other night. I’ve never been in a bathroom with one of the TG people, and I know that for a fact. Here’s how I know: men urinating make a certain sound, while women urinating make a sound that’s completely different. Now, I’ve been married for a combined total of 33 years now, and I know the sound a woman makes when she’s “emptying her peanut”, as my wife says. And I’ve never ever heard that sound in a public restroom anywhere I’ve been. I submit it to you that this is all much ado about nothing. The number of TG’s that pee in public is so vanishingly small as to be statistically insignificant. Patrick is throwing chum on the water to his base. I don’t care for Straus, but he’s right to kill this thing, and kill it dead.

    • SpiritofPearl

      This statement is as absurd asTodd Akins’ comment about pregnancy following rape: “Women have a way to shut that down.”

    • BCinBCS

      I submit it to you that this is all much ado about nothing.

      Oh my God, roadgeek and I agree on something!

    • John Johnson

      That might be the craziest post yet…it sounds different??? Crossdressers are going to be standing up at a urinal? A male and female sitting on a toilet make distinctly different sounds while pee’ing? Are you serious? This is stupid…to the frigging max.

      This bill, if passed, will cost us dearly in out of state revenue as NC has discovered. That is fact; it is also fact that these people have been using bathrooms fitting their gender and dressing preferences for decades without one reported problem that I have ever read or heard about.

      Please quit making such outrageous claims and using such ridiculous statements to attempt to justify your position. The little bit of credibility as a critical thinker you might have been afforded here in the past, just got flushed.

      • roadgeek

        Mr. Johnson, you’ve obviously never heard a woman piss.

        • Asher B. Garber

          For someone who isn’t interested in this topic…. I blame Drumpf and Putin for all this piss talk.

          • BCinBCS



    The problem is that Patrick is playing to his crazies and their sexual hangups are auch that fiscal reality is meaningless to them.

    • roadgeek

      It’s not about sexual hang-ups. It’s about forcing a change to a social custom that is deeply entrenched in our culture; a custom which has worked remarkably well for centuries. Social customs are going to need to evolve to deal with sexual ambivalence, and the prevailing attitude among most Deplorables is that men are born with a penis and women a vagina, and never the twain shall meet. This desire to use different restrooms is, to the Deplorables, just another attempt by the Elites in the cities and on the coasts to force a depraved culture down their throats, and they deeply resent that. What so many liberals just don’t get is that many Deplorables, myself included, voted for Trump as a sort of protest against this sort of thing.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Some individuals are born with both and have the chromosomal profile to prove it. You have oversimplified a biological reality for many transgendered Americans.

        • St. Anger

          Another irony of racegeek’s argument is that “the social custom that has worked remarkably well” is that if letting people use the restroom without checking gender physically.

          Here again, it is the “conservatives” who are trying to force the change, simply because they only just now figured all this out.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Conservatives fear change. “Keep it the same way as it’s always been.”

      • Asher B. Garber

        Isn’t it social custom to not wonder if the person in the next stall isn’t the same sex as you? Somehow I’ve made it through 46 years of life without this being an issue.

  • roadgeek

    Oh, and I freely admit I probably didn’t use the correct terms for the sexually ambivalent, but I simply have too many other more important things to keep track of; things I’m more interested in.

  • José

    Opponents of the bill have offered up data about the effects, $234 million for one event alone. By now someone probably has a better estimate on the overall cost when you factor in future events and reduced job growth as Texas strengthens its reputation as an intolerant place.

    So, again, what data has been put forth by the proponents of the bill? They are framing this as a public safety measure. How many fewer sexual assaults do they predict, and how do they arrive at such a number? Waiting…

    • roadgeek

      Relax. As I predicted earlier, the bill is stillborn. Patrick can tell his base that he tried, and blame Straus.

    • dave in texas

      There can’t be any fewer sexual assaults, because the number of times someone posing as transgender has sexually assaulted someone in a bathroom stubbornly remains at zero.

  • José

    It’s about forcing a change to a social custom that is deeply entrenched in our culture; a custom which has worked remarkably well for centuries.”

    That depends on whose opinion you hear, I reckon. Ask a woman how she feels about being denied employment or being told that she couldn’t be allowed to manage her finances. Ask a black or brown person about schools that were separate but not equal, and about being turned down for housing because it wasn’t “the right neighborhood for you”. Ask the gay person who had to live a lie every day in fear of losing a paycheck. Yeah, those social customs were a real sweet deal for some folks.

    Change is hard, I get that, but we are a stronger people than you might think. Remember all that hubbub about how society was going to fall apart once marriage equality became law and DADT was dropped? Things have been pretty calm as far as I can tell. This is going to be the same.

    • roadgeek

      I suspect what drives so many Deplorables into anger is, after voicing their disagreement with some social change or another, being told that they are racist, bigoted, homophobic, intolerant, transphobic and so forth. Instead of rebutting their objections calmly and dispassionately, liberals resorted to name-calling. Deplorables simply got tired of the name-calling, hunkered down and waited for the next election.

      • dave in texas

        The name-calling would likely never happen in the first place if people didn’t continue to demand that they be able to discriminate against other people in ways they’d never abide if the same standards were applied to them.

      • José

        Has there been an episode where social conservative extremists had their say, did not prevail, and then followed up with something like “OK well you won, fair and square, and now we will stand aside”, and then they were called names unfairly? Because I’m having trouble seeing a moral issue with telling the truth.

        But anyway, thank you for not disputing the point of my comments. Social customs that offer a little convenience to one class of people while damaging the lives and dignity of others deserve neither our praise nor protection.

      • SpiritofPearl

        So to show those liberals how vexed you all are, you elected a psychopath? Why didn’t you just shoot yourself in the face? All same same . . .

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  • SpiritofPearl

    This approach didn’t out well for Indiana or NC.

  • wills94

    SB 6 – utter nonsense! The “Bathroom Bill” is a 100% nonexistent problem in search of an entirely fictional solution. Nothing more than raw meat being hurled at the insatiable hate-crowd. Have we learned absolutely nothing from North Carolina’s identical legislative massive blow to their own financial resources? Why are we allowing a handful of hyper-reactionary, right-wing zealots to hijack our entire state economy over a “problem” (?) no one even knew existed a year ago?
    Call your State Reps today – STOP THE NONSENSE!