AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Discussions are again ramping up in Austin over House Bill 2899 or the proposal referred to as the “bathroom bill.”
The proposal will be discussed today in a Texas House committee hearing that will no doubt also focus on how the bill would impact sporting organizations, events and tournaments held in the state.
Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton spoke with CBS 11 News and said he can understand why people feel passionate about the bill, because it’s an issue that impacts people directly or indirectly.
The NBA, NFL and businesses including Facebook and Google have previously warned Texas against adopting a bill similar to one that was recently repealed in North Carolina.
When asked about the possibility of losing big events Simmons said his main concern is protecting Texans. “We’re open for business in Texas,” he said. “This doesn’t affect private businesses; they can do what they want to. If somebody controls the stadium lease they can do what they want to there. So we’re not controlling what they do from a private business standpoint.”
Simmons said when it comes to multiple occupancy bathrooms, showers or locker rooms; he thinks the issue needs to be handled at the state level. He also said he believes there are some misconceptions about what the bill would mean and whom it would apply to. “This doesn’t have anything to do with veterans or elderly people. There’s no special bathroom type ordinances related to those people as there is, so we’re not doing anything related to that. But ya know, it’s just something that has to be discussed — that’s the way democracy works.”
The proposal being discussed in the House today is different than Senate Bill 6, which was passed in the Senate last month. This amended bill would ban cities and school districts from passing local laws affecting certain people in an intimate space. Simmons proposal also doesn’t regulate bathroom use in government buildings and public schools and universities based on biological sex.
LGBT advocates have been opposed to both measures. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the gay advocacy group GLAAD, said, “It’s shameful and un-Texan for an elected official to view discriminating against transgender people and throwing Texas into a potential $3 billion economic panic as top priorities for the state.”
Tuesday afternoon Governor Greg Abbott endorsed the bill. He issued a statement saying –
“I applaud the House and Senate for tackling an issue that is of growing concern to parents and communities across Texas who are now looking to the Legislature for solutions,” Abbott said in a statement. “Rep. Simmons is offering a thoughtful proposal to make sure our children maintain privacy in our school bathrooms and locker rooms. As the debate on this issue continues, I will work with the House and Senate to ensure we find a solution and ultimately get a bill to my desk that I will sign into law.”