News

January 2017

Texas CVBs Join Fight Against Discrimination

AUSTIN, Texas

A coalition of Texas CVBs including VisitDallas, San Antonio, Austin, Arlington, Fort Worth and leaders from PCMA, ASAE, IAEE and TechNet, a technology trade group in Texas, joined together to form “Texas Welcomes All” to oppose the “Privacy Protection Act” and any other discriminatory legislation.  

The coalition strongly opposes Senate Bill 6 (SB6), legislation introduced by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (Rep.-Brenham) that discriminates against transgender people. The bill would prohibit any local government from adopting or enforcing an ordinance that relates to the use of a private entity’s bathroom or changing facility—essentially nullifying ordinances that protect against discrimination in public accommodations. Inclusive cities with transgender-inclusive public accommodations policies would lose those protections.

Nearly 1,200 Texas employers, including 41 Fortune 500 companies, 21 Texas chambers of commerce, most of the major airlines and hotels, are united in saying that there is significant economic risk in Texas being hostile to LGBT people—and that protecting Texas’ competitiveness costs us nothing at all.

The group called passage of the Lt. Governor’s bathroom bill “an unnecessary multibillion-dollar disaster" for the Texas economy, Texas tourism, Texas DMOs and CVBs and cities across the state.

“Discrimination of any kind is wrong. If passed, this legislation will have devastating consequences on our economy and would result in our local government losing its control over ensuring Dallas is a welcoming city to all,” said VisitDallas CEO Phillip Jones. “Rather than keep the status quo and let each Texas city determine its own community values, this legislation would essentially pre-empt Texas from doing business by bypassing every city’s own social values to conform to one state standard.”

The legislation, if passed, is estimated to result in a short-term GDP loss of $8.5 billion annually statewide due to lost travel and tourism revenues, and it would put an estimated 185,000 travel and tourism jobs at risk in Texas. As seen in North Carolina, Texas can expect cancellations from major performing artists, sporting events and business conventions and meetings if this legislation passes.

Following are statements from PCMA, ASAE and the Austin CVB on the issue:

“Restroom laws are one of the top policy deterrent for planning conventions, conferences and meetings,” said Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of the PCMA. “Know that our industry holds 1.83 million meetings annually and brings $28 billion in U.S. federal, state and local taxes annually; with more than $280 billion in annual U.S. direct spending spurred by our sector. Should SB6 be signed into law, you ensure Texas’s future percentage of these taxes and spending will exponentially be reduced.”

“ASAE opposes any legislation that permits or even gives the appearance of tolerating discrimination,” said John Graham, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). “Similar to other bills of this type that we have seen proliferate across the country, Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory in that it is squarely aimed at denying public accommodations to members of the LGBTQ community.”

“The Texas Privacy Act is a piece of legislation that is discriminatory and sends a message that Texas is unwelcoming,” stated Tom Noonan, president and CEO of the Austin CVB. “Moreover, the passing of this bill or any other bathroom bill, will have a huge financial impact to our state with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. We’re asking other convention and visitor bureau leadership to join our coalition to keep Texas open for business and welcoming to all.”

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