HOUSTON, July 26 — Texas state senators Tuesday voted to advance the latest bathroom bill to a final vote as early as Wednesday after an eight-hour debate.
The so-called bathroom bill, advocated by the majority Republican party for the sake of privacy, would regulate bathroom use in schools and buildings overseen by local government based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.
The vote came after police chiefs from around the state called on the Senate to abandon the bill. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said there is no crisis in bathrooms now and the legislature could be creating a distraction for police.
Advocates for the transgender community say the bill will force people who identify with one gender to use bathrooms with the opposite sex.
Almost all Democrats in the chamber voted against the bill which they labelled “discriminatory” toward Texas’ transgender community. But given their minority status, the Republican leadership was able to force a special session for quick passage of the bill.
On Friday, the legislation won swift approval from a Senate committee.
The Texas House of Representatives approved a legislation in May, which required transgender schoolchildren to use bathrooms that correspond to their “biological sex,” putting the state on the verge of enacting a “bathroom bill” similar to one that drew controversy in North Carolina.
A similar law in North Carolina resulted in boycotts and relocation of major sporting and entertainment events, costing the state hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
Even consideration of the Texas bathroom bill has already led to about 66 million dollars lost in convention business, according to the testimony last Friday at a public hearing.
The Texas business community, including chief executives of companies with a major presence in the state, have lined up against the legislation, citing concerns about the ability to recruit talent and investment.