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Does Texas bathroom bill battle reflect larger GOP problem?

Texas lawmakers are heading into a special session Tuesday to consider restrictions again on what bathroom transgender people can use.

Fourteen Dallas-based businesses signed a letter to fight the proposed legislation. American and Southwest Airlines, along with AT&T, are just some of the companies that argue it would hurt the state’s ability to attract new business and jobs.

At the Texas state capitol in Austin, it’s not just a debate on transgender rights, it’s a battle that appears to reflect what the GOP is facing at the national level, with moderate Republicans facing off against their more right-leaning fellow party members.

When it comes to the issue of transgender people using public bathrooms in Texas, the state’s Republican governor has voiced the conservative party line, David Begnaud reports.

But just like two months ago, the governor’s agenda is facing pushback on multiple fronts. Saturday, transgender woman Ashley Smith posted a photo with the governor with the caption, “How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the Governor doesn’t.”

It’s also pitting Republican lawmakers against each other.
 
“The party’s divided over whether this is a deeply important moral issue or just a complete fake with no purpose except to rally the base,” said Jonathan Tilov of the Austin-American Statesman.

Conservative State Representative Ron Simmons introduced HB-46 which could impact transgender bathroom use in school districts.
 
“I need to know that I can have the same expectation of privacy no matter where I am in the state of Texas if I’m using one of these facilities,” Simmons said.
 
But the Republican state house speaker has voiced his concern for these so-called bathroom bills. He was quoted in the New Yorker as saying he was “disgusted by all this.”
 
“It’s absurd that bathroom bills have taken on greater urgency than fixing our school finance system,” said State House Speaker Joe Straus. 

 
“He’s pushing back against the will of the governor, and lieutenant governor, so it’s a concern,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said.
 
Last year, protests and threats of boycotts erupted over a similar measure in North Carolina which lawmakers were eventually forced to roll back. More than a dozen Texas-based CEOs have signed an open letter expressing their concern the legislation would hurt businesses, investment and jobs. Those sentiments were echoed in a full-page ad taken out by IBM on Friday.

“We have trans employees and we have families with trans children and they’re not feeling safe,” Dianne Gherson, IBM’s senior vice president of human resources.
 
One estimate says the Texas economy could lose more than $5.5 billion should the measures pass.

And there could be political costs as well in the 2018 midterm elections.

Conservative super PACs are already planning to spend big money to target moderate Republicans who don’t support the legislation.

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Source: CBS News – United States

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