Lt. gov. blasts coverage of ‘fear-mongering’ Bathroom Bill study

FILE - Dan Patrick (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Dan Patrick (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “There is no evidence whatsoever that the passage of Senate Bill 6 will have any economic impact in Texas,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday afternoon, in a rebuke of both the study that estimated Texas losses for passage of the “Bathroom Bill” at up to $8.5 billion and the news media that reported the study.

Citing a PolitiFact Texas finding that the $8.5 billion claim made in a study commissioned by the Texas Association of Business (TAB) was “Mostly False,” the lieutenant governor said he had known the data was faulty and misrepresented. Addressing the media, Patrick said, “You’re basing stories built on a totally bogus report.”

While PolitiFact Texas — a partnership between three Texas newspapers and PolitiFact.com — found the passage of the bill may send “economic shivers” through Texas, they say the 2015 study relied on predicted or actual effects of “discriminatory mandates” in other states and had problems with how the authors came up with the headline-making numbers.

Patrick said the bill, officially the “Texas Privacy Act,” would require Texas residents use bathrooms matching their gender at birth, and was not discriminatory. “The bill is about public safety and the privacy of teenagers who don’t want to shower together in the 10th grade,” he said, arguing it was not a controversial piece of legislation.

“We stand behind the study,” said Chris Wallace, President of the Texas Association of Business.

He told KXAN the $8.5 billion figure is part of a range which is a moving target, and several economists put their stamp of approval on the findings.

“All of them said there’s going to be great economic impact, so the bottom line is there’s going to be great economic impact — it’s just a matter of how much.” said Wallace. “We’re trying to fix something that is simply not a problem, and is risking too much for our brand.”

On the heels of the PolitiFact finding, Patrick reiterated he felt very good about the bill and the support for it. Using the failure of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) as an example, the lieutenant governor said, “I don’t know of any business that hasn’t moved to Houston because the voters stood up for the issues involved in Senate Bill 6.”

He said the TAB report even projected Texas might lose the Super Bowl. “Well they weren’t watching yesterday,” Patrick said. “Fear-mongering is what that report is about.” Last month, KXAN’s Kevin Schwaller explained that TAB’s report estimated potential losses of $38 million associated with South by Southwest over four years. It extrapolated that there could be a $108 million loss over four years associated with Formula 1 Racing, among other losses.

In response to questions from PolitiFact, the authors said the study presented a range of possible impacts. The study, conducted by St. Edward’s University, estimated it could cost the state between $964 million and $8.5 billion and more than 100,000 jobs.

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