Sunday, January 1, 2017

Texas businesses pushing back on proposed anti-LGBT legislation

Business leaders do not want Texas
to be the next North Carolina.

Texas Lt. Governor (and one of the state's most rabid bigots) Dan Patrick has said that shepherding a “bathroom bill” through the legislature is his top priority in the 2017 legislative session. Apparently dictating where a minuscule minority of citizens can pee is more important than improvements to education, infrastructure and economic development.

It is a reasonable speculation that Patrick will utilize model legislation authored by the religious zealots at Alliance Defending Freedom. If so, it will have the effect of preempting municipal LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances

The Texas Business Association sponsored two studies from St. Edward's University in Austin, The studies demonstrate that the legislation could result in significant economic losses in Texas' gross domestic product, with estimates ranging from just under $1 billion to more than to $8 billion. There would be other detrimental effects including job losses.

The hospitality and meeting industries are particularly concerned that businesses would opt to effectively sanction the state and move their conferences and conventions elsewhere. Jeff Rasco, CEO of Attendee Management Inc. and a representative of Meeting Professionals International is quoted as saying; “We don't want to be another North Carolina.”

Even though we have failed to get North Carolina's HB2 repealed, the opprobrium has affected and will affect the attitudes of other states towards similar legislation.

There are some very large private employers in Texas. Dell employs over 22,000 workers in the state and Shell Deepwater Development has over 44,000 folks on the local payroll. In addition to most of the oil industry (Exxon Mobile. ConocoPhillips and Valero, to name a few) Texas is HQ for companies like AT&T, Sysco, American Airlines, Kimberly Clark, Whole Foods, J.C. Penney and a host of other household names. Then there are subsidiary offices. For example, Hewlett Packard has a large presence in the state. IBM employs roughly 8,000 Texans.

Most of these companies are heavily dependent upon a welcoming climate in order to attract employees. When Exxon Mobile goes from an HRC rating of 20 to 85 in just two years that tells you something. Many of these companies (for example AT&T, Dell, Kimberly Clark, J.C. Penney and American Airlines) have HRC scores of 100%.

Some senior executives at these companies might have views similar to Mr. Paxton. However, business interests including their obligations to stockholders, prevail. Hopefully these same sensibilities will limit the amount of damage that Dan Patrick is able to inflict upon his state.

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