It was a long day Tuesday in Austin, where many packed the capitol. Hundreds signed up to testify either in support of or against the so-called "bathroom bill,” or Senate Bill 6. San Antonians were among the many that traveled to Austin so they could speak before senators.
If S.B. 6 were to pass, it would require people to go by the gender on their birth certificate when choosing a bathroom, locker room, or shower in government buildings, schools and universities. One of the biggest proponents of the bill is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
“It’s about preventing a free pass to sexual predators who are not transgender from being able to walk into any bathroom with any child or any woman at any time,” Patrick said.
San Antonio Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran testified Tuesday, disputing the notion of an ongoing danger with a letter from SAPD Chief William McManus given to senators.
“You have at your dais a copy of a letter from Police Chief William McManus, stating, for the record, that there have been no reported incidents in public restrooms that S.B. 6 seeks to prevent,” Councilwoman Viagran said.
Opponents of the bill say that the legislation is discriminatory and bad for business. Officials with Visit San Antonio said that three organizations considering San Antonio for conventions are now “looking elsewhere.” Visit SA officials estimate that the potential loss of those conventions represents an economic impact of $3.1 million. And 11 organizations “are reconsidering or would remove their events,” and that could result in a loss of $30 million.
“San Antonio is the largest tourism market in the state. We work hard to put together competitive packages to attract events and ensure our industry remains strong. S.B. 6 would threaten our competitiveness,” said Mike Sawaya, the director of San Antonio's Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities.
San Antonio businessman Ryan Frazier claimed on Tuesday that the economic loss won’t be as noticeable as some fear.
“I think that the numbers look large when you look at them at their face. But when you look at, proportionally, what we’re talking about, it’s hardly measurable,” Frazier said.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that he was hoping the bill would get pushed out of the committee late Tuesday or early Wednesday and head to the senate floor next week.