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The Brief: Texas could lose billions over anti-LGBT bills, businesses say

According to a report by the Texas Association of Business, economic fallout in Texas would mostly come from loss of tourism and events.

An accessible unisex bathroom at The University of Texas at Austin.

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The Big Story

Texas Republicans' efforts to pass a bill to keep transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and another that would shield religious objectors to same-sex marriage could cost the state up to $8.5 billion, the Texas Association of Business warned Tuesday. Here’s the story so far:

The figure is based on an economic impact study conducted by St. Edward’s University and commissioned by the Texas Association of Business. According to their report, the economic fallout in Texas would mostly come from loss of tourism and events if lawmakers move forward with legislation similar to North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill and Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law.

Texas Republican leaders, namely Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have vowed to push further measures. In his agenda for the upcoming legislative session, Patrick listed the as-yet-unfiled Senate Bill 6, which would regulate the use of bathrooms and prohibit transgender Texans from using the bathroom in line with their gender identity. However, House Speaker Joe Straus has said such legislation is not high on his chamber's list of priorities.

The fight over equal rights in Texas picked up strength after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. It was also spotlighted last year when conservative activists in Houston helped overturn a local ordinance, better known as HERO, that would have established protections from discrimination for gay and transgender residents among several other classes.

Lawmakers have filed several bills regarding LGBT and religious rights, including pre-empting local ordinances that extend protections to LGBT residents and legislation to shield religious objectors to same-sex marriage if they refuse to serve same-sex couples. Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth have had comprehensive ordinances offering LGBT residents some degree of protection against discrimination in employment, housing and other public accommodations, such as bathrooms.

#TxLege Today 

The House Committee on Transportation will meet today (9 a.m. E2.010) to hear invited testimony on autonomous vehicles. See the full committee schedule

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Dallas hopes for windfall in Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure pledge, but details remain fuzzy, The Dallas Morning News

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New state-required pamphlet overstates abortion risks, physicians say, Austin American-Statesman

Patrick and Straus: 'legislators don't need a pay raise', San Antonio Express-News

Today in TribTalk

"The rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump against Mexican-Americans is striking, but the ideas aren't new. Latinos and Latinas faced similar attacks in Texas more than 160 years ago from the Know-Nothing movement."

— Raúl A. Ramos, Associate professor, University of Houston

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham & Rep.-elect Hugh Shine on Dec. 8 at Temple College – Arnold Student Union

•   Health Care and the 85th Legislature on Dec. 15 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio - Pestana Lecture Hall

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center

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