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The Brief: Senator-elect says Patrick’s bathroom bill will focus on schools

Citing conversations with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, state Senator-elect Dawn Buckingham said that Patrick’s bill will not affect businesses and sporting venues.

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The Big Story

In an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith Thursday, state Senator-elect Dawn Buckingham, R-Austin, suggested that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s so-called "bathroom bill” — which would prohibit transgender Texans from using bathrooms that match their gender identity — will focus on schools, not businesses or sporting venues. Her comments come after the Texas Association of Business released a study warning that anti-LGBT legislation could cost the Lone Star State up to $8.5 billion. Here’s the story so far:

• Citing conversations with the lieutenant governor, Buckingham said Patrick’s bill will not affect businesses or sporting venues. When asked if she was saying businesses and sporting venues will be exempt under the bill, Buckingham replied, "Well, we'll see what the language looks like, but it's my understanding that that's the intent — to realize that there are some complicating factors there and our priorities are really the schools."

On Thursday, Patrick's office said the legislation was “still being drafted” and did not speak directly to Buckingham's suggestion that the legislation will only focus on schools. "Senator-elect Buckingham is correct that the need for this legislation was largely generated by President Obama's presidential bathroom edict that would have forced schools to adopt a politically correct bathroom, locker room and shower policy that was an affront to common sense, safety and decency," Patrick spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester said.

Buckingham’s remarks come as Patrick faces pressure to abandon the bathroom bill, which critics say could hurt Texas' economy by making the state appear intolerant. The legislation, which he is calling the Women's Privacy and Business Protection Act, has not yet been released, but Patrick named it one of his top 10 priorities for the upcoming session.

On Tuesday, the Texas Association of Business released a study that warned such legislation could cost the Lone Star State between $964 million and $8.5 billion and more than 100,000 jobs. Patrick’s office issued a statement firing back at the business group, dismissing the report as "misinformation and fear-mongering regarding a bill they haven't even seen."

What We're Reading

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

Cruz breaks campaign promise, votes in favor of defense spending bill for the first time, The Dallas Morning News

What Ben Carson at HUD could mean for Houston, Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Federal hearing may answer questions in deadly Lockhart balloon crashAustin American-Statesman 

Women's health groups consider filing lawsuit to oppose Texas' fetal remains rules, The Dallas Morning News

Could thirsty Austin turn to faraway Fort Stockton for water?, Austin American-Statesman 

Today in TribTalk

"Cities that flout the law by enacting sanctuary city policies are not just turning a blind eye to the problem of illegal immigration but are encouraging it."

— Paul Workman, State representative, R-Austin

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   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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