Yesterday, the Texas Legislature convened for the start of the Special Session called by Governor Abbott. Your San Antonio Chamber of Commerce is diligently working to support and advocate for your business interests. Among the list of 20 priorities put out by the Governor, the state’s proposed bathroom legislation is an important item the Chamber will continue to monitor closely.
On February 16, the Chamber Board of Directors adopted a statement that is included in our State Legislative Agenda:
The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce opposes any law, statute, ordinance or rule that weakens our community’s private and/or public sector’s ability to attract talent, private investment or in any way limits San Antonio’s identity as a welcoming destination to visit, live and work. Policies that discriminate against individuals or groups based upon gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability are not in keeping with the long history of inclusion that has been San Antonio’s promise, and hamper Texas’ ability to compete in the global marketplace.
During the 85th Legislative Session, the Chamber took an active and formal stance in opposition to a bathroom bill or any similar legislation. We sent letters, submitted cards, talked directly with our legislative representatives, and joined in press conferences to oppose this legislation because of its negative impact on talent attraction and our ability to compete nationally and globally for that talent. While we were pleased that the session concluded without the passage of a bathroom bill, this issue remains a priority for us during the Special Session.
The Chamber is collaborating with the City of San Antonio, the Metro 8 Chambers, the Texas Association of Business, and various local business and community leaders to express our opposition to this discriminatory legislation. On Tuesday July 11, Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez and staff attended a legislative luncheon featuring San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and the Texas Association of Business (TAB) President Chris Wallace. The luncheon provided an overview of the upcoming Special Session, including a discussion on the economic impact of the proposed bathroom legislation. Mayor Nirenberg told business and community leaders in the room, “The San Antonio community and other big cities that drive the Texas economy are under attack by some state leaders.” Nirenberg urged business leaders to come together to help block legislation that will have long-term negative impacts on the economic viability of San Antonio.
This past Monday, Perez joined Texas business leaders on the south steps of the State Capitol for a “Keep Texas Open for Business” news conference hosted by Texas Association of Business. David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc spoke at the press conference stating, “Bathroom bills are a job killer.” Phil Gilbert, IBM General Manager of Design, expressed IBM’s opposition to the so-called bathroom bill, which he described as “discriminatory and bad for business.” It was announced at the press conference that 14 CEOs from the Dallas area (Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, BNSF Railroad and AT&T to name a few) signed a letter to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House expressing their opposition to the bathroom bills. We are gaining momentum and urge CEO’s in San Antonio to come forward as well.
Immediately following the press conference, Perez and staff met with key legislators to discuss the San Antonio business community’s legislative priorities for the special session, including the proposed bathroom legislation, annexation, and public school finance issues.
To learn about the Texas Association of Business Keep Texas Open for Business Coalition, please visit their website at http://www.keeptxopen.org/