Originally published in the San Antonio Current
According to Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, passing a bill that allows business owners to discriminate against transgender Texans won’t have any economic impact on the state.
“I don’t know of any business that hasn’t moved to Houston because of the issue,” said Patrick at a Monday press conference. “We’ve had basketball tournaments. We had the greatest Super Bowl ever.”
In fact, he says “there is no evidence whatsoever” to support the ‘bogus’ idea that state-sanctioned discrimination could carry a hefty price tag. He’s incorrect.
Patrick is specifically talking about a much-touted economic impact study by the Texas Association of Business that the fact-checking website PolitiFact called “mostly false” this week. The fact-checkers say they arrived at that conclusion because the December study, which estimated a potential $8.5 billion loss statewide if SB 6 went into place, overestimated the potential losses linked to sport events.
But there’s still plenty of evidence that Patrick’s bill could hurt the Texas economy. Take a look at the bill Patrick used as inspiration for his SB 6, North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which ultimately triggered a NCAA boycott that cost the state somewhere between $77 million and $201 million in lost tourism. (It’s estimated the state could lose $250 million more this year if it doesn’t repeal HB 2.)
If the NCAA does the same to San Antonio, where the 2018 Men’s Final Four games are scheduled to take place, economists are already predicting at least a $234 million loss in tourism and tax revenue. Patrick did not mention this study, or any of the concerns from small business owners that rely on the state’s tourism economy.
Instead, Patrick repeated a few times, he wanted the media to report on how wrong this one study was and reminded them that this was a bill to (somehow) protect women.
While politicians and industry officials argue over financial issues, the population that will be most affected by the legislation are already paying the price. Last month’s U.S. Transgender Survey found that 29 percent of more than 1,000 trans Texans had been fired, denied a promotion, harassed, or otherwise mistreated by an employer as a result of their gender identity — and that’s without a discriminatory bill in place.