Texas 'bathroom bill' unveiled ahead of 2017 session

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveiled proposed law Thursday at news conference

By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas lawmakers will decide whether to embrace an issue that caused a national uproar in North Carolina — banning transgendered people from using the bathroom of their choice.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a top social conservative voice in the state, unveiled the proposed law Thursday at a news conference.

Patrick says the "Privacy Protection Act" is a top priority for the GOP-controlled Legislature, which convenes next week.

“After our success in stopping President Obama’s bathroom rules in court, states are now free to enact legislature of their choosing to protect privacy," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. "Texans should feel safe and secure when they enter any intimate facility, so I applaud the work of Lt. Gov. Patrick and state Sen. Kolkhorst for fighting to protect women and children from those who might use access to such facilities for nefarious purposes.”

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Lawmakers likely will support it, even though Texas' largest business lobbying group says it and other anti-gay rights proposals could cost the state up to $8.5 billion and 100,000-plus jobs.

North Carolina faced boycotts, and potentially billions of dollars in lost state revenue, after passing its own version last year.

“After having watched the debacle in North Carolina, it is shocking that the Lt. Gov. would be so intent on pursuing SB6," Rebecca L. Robertson, legal for policy director for the ACLU of Texas said. "It’s unnecessary, discriminatory and inconsistent with the constitutional value of equal protection for all.  And that’s to say nothing of the havoc it will wreak on the Texas economy should it pass. Make no mistake — the invidious intent of SB6 is to deny transgender Texans the ability to participate in public life.”

The executive director of the ACLU of Texas, Terri Burke, also said Patrick should "cease his assaults on women’s well-being, repair Texas’s moribund CPS program and see to the millions of uninsured children whose lives and futures have been compromised by our lawmakers’ warped priorities.”

A Virginia lawmaker introduced similar legislation this week.

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