“Bathroom Bill” on Special Session List Causes 2nd Major Convention to Cancel in Texas!

I wrote an article on June 8th about conventions starting to cancel their events in Texas. This was due to SB 4 the “Sanctuary City-Show Me Your Papers” Law which is set to take effect September 1st. The American Immigration Lawyers Association had announced it is relocating its 2018 convention from Grapevine,Texas to another state because of SB 4. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the event out of their 15,000 members. AILA president Bill Stock announced SB 4’s “dangerous, destructive and counter productive proposals” go against the group’s mission.

During a conference call with reporters AILA president Bill Stock stated, “One of the issues that drove the board’s decision was concern on behalf of quite a number of our members that they might not be willing to bring themselves or their families to Texas. Our members are US citizens and green card holders but many of them come from ethnic communities where they felt that they [would] being unfairly targeted.”link 

Today the Professional Convention Management Association pulled their 2019 convention out of Houston feeling the ongoing discussion of a bathroom bill is discriminatory and would lead to many groups not even considering Texas for conventions.  Groups are now looking at the list of bills to be brought back up for discussion in the upcoming Special Session which begins July 18th. The “Bathroom Bill” is once again on the list because of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s obsession over bathrooms and in hopes to keep his base ignited.

The 7,000-member Professional Convention Management Association was planning their “Super Bowl of Convention” in Houston, but cited the debate over transgender bathroom use as a reason to cancel it.

In an interview on Newsradio 1200 WOAI with Chuck Smith of Equality Texas, Smith stated, “I would certainly hope, at some point, that there is a recognition that continuing to pursue legislation that targets a marginalized group of people is something that is going to cause real damage. If the meeting planners are not coming here, that’s likely to have an impact on the conventions that these people book.”

I sat in and testified on HB 2899 which was the Texas House version of a “Bathroom Bill”. During the committee session representatives from Dallas, Austin and San Antonio’s visitors bureaus also spoke. The convention business is huge for San Antonio.  A report out earlier this year found that, if the so-called bathroom passed, it would cost the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area, $411.8 million annually in lost business, as well as the elimination of 4,650 jobs shared Cassandra Matej.

Cassandra Matej, head of Visit San Antonio released a statement saying “And those are just the meetings we know about. My fear is that there are groups out there who have already scratched San Antonio off their lists because the state is being regarded as discriminatory and unwelcoming just because of these discussions.”

Last week Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus met with Texas educators in San Antonio for the  Texas Association of School Boards’ annual summer leadership institute. He urged educators attending the conference to keep speaking out for the issues important to public schools and to take action.

While discussing the “Bathroom Bill” issue Straus went on to say “”I don’t know what all the issues are with bathrooms in our schools, but I’m pretty sure you can handle them, and I know that you have been handling them”. He said the “bathroom bill” sends the wrong message about Texas, instead of “making decisions that attract jobs, that attract families.”

(R) Speaker Straus continues to be one of the STRONGEST OPPONENTS of SB 6 the “Bathroom Bill.” He constantly made statements to the media that the “Bathroom Bill” was a solution looking for a problem, a manufactured issue. And, he is right. There is not a problem with transgender people in Texas using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

So now with Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spouting lies about how the “Sanctuary City” and a “Bathroom Law” would not hurt the revenue of Texas the facts are proving them wrong. We are just going to see multitudes of conventions and vacation reservations cancelled as Abbott and Patrick pursue these discriminatory laws and bills in the upcoming special session.

It’s time to make your voices heard and call Governor Abbott at the Capitol at 512-463-2000 and tell him discriminatory bathroom bills are not welcome in Texas.

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