Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
A few days before San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged Gov. Greg Abbott “not to mess with Texas” in their first private meeting, a large number of local business and community leaders sent a letter to Austin Friday expressing their opposition to the bathroom bill, calling it “discriminatory.”
Local leaders such as IBC Bank CEO Dennis Nixon, Zachry Corporation CEO David Zachry, President and CEO of CPS Energy Paula Gold-Williams, Rackspace CEO Joe Eazor, and others are among those included in the letter.
To read the letter, click here.
The list of signatures includes several prominent conservative leaders in the local community. Only 26% of Republican primary voters support the “bathroom bill,” according to a survey by the Texas Association of Business, and an economic impact study by the Perryman Group estimates that San Antonio could lose nearly 4,640 jobs and $411.8 million annually.
“The number of interviews [1,500] was very large, and we are quite confident that the combined results are a very accurate reflection of Republican primary voter sentiments on this issue,” political consultant and pollster Joe Counter said, reacting to the Texas Association of Business study. “The survey results were essentially the same in every region with overwhelming opposition and/or indifference to the legislation.”
Fifty-four organizations have committed to canceling current projects or moving them to alternate locations should such legislation pass, the letter states – moves that could cost the city $1.04 billion in economic impact through 2026.
“As local business and community leaders, we oppose any law, statute, ordinance or rule that weakens our community’s private and/or public sector’s ability to attract talent and private investment or in any way limits San Antonio’s identity as a welcoming destination to visit, live, and work,” the letter reads. “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 they hamper Texas’ ability to compete in the global marketplace.”
The bathroom bill would cancel parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances geared toward allowing transgender individuals to use public restrooms that match their gender identities. It would also restrict their use of restrooms in public schools and local government buildings. Supporters of the bill argue it would prevent sexual predators from entering bathrooms of the opposite sex. Law enforcement officials from several Texas cities, including San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, have testified before lawmakers that there is no evidence to back up those claims.
“San Antonio’s economy has grown in part through the investments made in the bioscience, cybersecurity and manufacturing industries,” the letter continues. “As we compete for talent, it is imperative that our leaders not hamper our ability to attract a skilled workforce by passing discriminatory bills, or other related companions or amendments.
“We believe our economy is stronger when Texas is open for business to everyone. Therefore, we strongly urge you to oppose any discriminatory legislation.”
During the 85th legislative session, several San Antonio businesses stood together in opposition of the bill, including 15 local school district superintendents.
On July 31, Nirenberg sent his own letter addressed to State Affairs Chair Joan Huffman in opposition to SB 3 and SB 91 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), calling San Antonio a “welcoming and inclusive” city.
After his meeting with Abbott on Monday, Nirenberg – who was joined by Garland Mayor Douglas Athas – said he was unable to bring up the “bathroom bill” due to time constraints, but that he hoped to do so at their next meeting.
“We wanted to spend our time on issues where we could move the needle a little bit,” Nirenberg said.