San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg testified against the so-called “bathroom bill,” saying it “puts transgendered people in the crosshairs of discrimination,” and threatens the Texas economy.
He was joined in opposition by the superintendents of all 15 school districts in San Antonio and a coalition of business leaders that includes the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of Business. IBM sent 20 executives to Austin to lobby against the measure and executives from Texas companies including AT&T, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines sent a letter to lawmakers saying the bill hampers job recruitment and would threaten sporting and cultural attractions.
While Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made the legislation a top priority, House Speaker Joe Straus continues to oppose the bill. The Texas Senate State Affairs Committee heard 10 hours of testimony from 250 people before passing the measure on. Read more in this Texas Tribune article.
Watch full video of Nirenberg’s July 21, 2017 testimony and the question and answer back and forth between him and Democratic state Sen. José Menéndez of San Antonio, Democratic state Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and the bill’s author, Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham. (scroll down for full text of his statement.)
What follows is the full text of Nirenberg's statement before the Senate Committee on State Affairs:
"Chair Huffman and Members of the State Affairs Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.
"The City of San Antonio stands with other communities in opposition to Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 91 by Senator Kolkhorst.
"San Antonio is a welcoming and inclusive place, where people from many backgrounds and beliefs come together to make it a great place to live and visit. These bills are in direct conflict with the values we hold as a community.
"This legislation puts transgendered people in the crosshairs of discrimination, in an attempt to protect children and women from a problem that clearly does not exist. This legislation threatens the state’s economy and lives of citizens we all represent because discrimination is as bad for business as it is for the safety of the most vulnerable members of our community.
"SB 3 and SB 91 would create the highly negative and harmful perception that San Antonio is not an open and hospitable place.
"Like all Texas cities, San Antonio competes for business relocations, conventions, and major sporting events. The passage of a bathroom bill would impair our ability to compete across the nation. Just the filing of the bill has already cost San Antonio millions of dollars in lost conventions. I am here with Casandra Matej, CEO of Visit San Antonio, who will discuss in detail the detrimental effect this has had on our local tourism and convention industry.
"We focus economic development efforts on targeted industries such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, cyber security and healthcare. Businesses will expand and move to cities where they can attract the talent pool they need. On Monday, David Heard, co-founder and CEO of Tech Bloc, an organization in San Antonio that advocates for the growing tech industry, stood on the Capitol steps with other Texas business leaders to reinforce the harm this discriminatory bill would have on Texas. Giving reason for candidates or companies to think twice about coming here does not help our economic development efforts."San Antonio stands united against this legislation. Bexar County superintendents representing 16 school districts have signed a letter voicing opposition to this legislation. Also, the Chambers of Commerce stand together in opposition to this divisive, counterproductive and discriminatory bill. Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, is here today. Several prominent San Antonio business leaders have stated that legislation like the regulation of bathrooms diverts much needed attention from what really matters, like public education financing.
"Proponents of the bill have stated that it is geared toward public safety.
"You have at your dais a letter from Police Chief William McManus stating that sexual assault in public restrooms is not a problem in San Antonio. Multiple state laws already criminalize the conduct this bill purports to address. In other words, SB 3 and SB 91 is a fix in search of a problem."Thank you for considering the City of San Antonio’s opposition to SB 3 and SB 91. To help ensure a more safe and inclusive Texas for all, we hope you will stand with us in opposition."