Weeks after North Carolina’s lawmakers failed to repeal their own state’s controversial bathroom law, a similar bill was introduced in the Texas Senate on Thursday, requiring the use of bathrooms in public schools, public universities, and government facilities according to biological sex.
Senate Bill 6, also known as the Texas Privacy Act, would override city ordinances that allow individuals to use restrooms according to gender identity, and also bars cities from requiring private businesses to have certain regulations regarding their bathrooms, allowing those businesses to make those rules for themselves instead.
Public facilities such as convention centers that are leased to private businesses, however, are exempt from the bill’s requirements. Senator Lois Kolkhort, the sponsor of the bill, said that accommodations will also be made in public schools for transgender students on a case-by-case basis, according to the Texas Tribune.
Entities that act against the bill’s requirements face fines of up to $1,500 for the first violation, and up to $10,500 for violations thereafter.
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight. But we know we’re on the right side of the issue,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of the strongest supporters of the bill. “We’re on the right side of history. You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.”
Opponents of the bill argue the bill is discriminatory, and also point to the economic consequences other states have faced for similar legislations, including in North Carolina and Indiana.
“All Texans care deeply about safety and privacy, but Senate Bill 6 isn’t about either of those things,” said Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business. “Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory and wholly unnecessary legislation that, if passed, could cost Texas as much as $8.5 billion in GDP and the loss of more than 185,000 jobs in the first year alone.”
Meanwhile, Texas was one of a dozen states that filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education and the Department of Justice for the Obama administration’s directive issued last year allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms according to gender identity. In August, a Texas federal judge granted a preliminary injunction, blocking the directive from being effective. However, states can still opt out of the injunction if they decide to do so.