Texas voter suppression bills could cost economy billions
Tarrant County and Texas could suffer losses in the tourism and economic development industries if lawmakers pass legislation to restrict voting, according to a report.
With Tarrant County and Texas being the destination for major events, Senate Bill 7 could dampen that prospect if passed in full. Fort Worth and Arlington have long featured as attractions for conventions and events.
Most recently, Fort Worth and Arlington hosted the National Finals Rodeo, the Rose Bowl, the US Olympic Wrestling Trials and are expected to host the US Gymnastics Championships in June and the NCAA first and second round basketball games in 2022.
But with the NCAA’s history of pulling events from states with discriminatory laws, and Major League Baseball, which last pulled the Georgia All-Star game in response to that state’s new election restriction law, Texas could get a backlash from companies and Organizations experience.
SB 7 was introduced by Senate Republicans to strengthen electoral integrity and reduce the likelihood of fraud. However, the opponents argue that it is a solution in search of a problem. Campaign experts said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the November 2020 election and that the elections were the safest in US history. Governor Greg Abbott made electoral integrity laws a priority for this term.
The bill would, among other things, restrict how local officials can expand options, regulate the distribution of polling stations in urban areas, establish new rules for postal voting and improve election observation. On Monday, Texas Senator Bryan Hughes, the lead author of SB 7, rejected Parliament’s May 7 amendments that differed the bill from the first. Now the bill is going to a conference committee to settle the differences between the chambers.
None of the authors of SB 7 responded to a request for comment.
Tourism and economic development could cause Texas to lose $ 16.7 billion in revenue and close to 150,000 jobs by 2025, according to an analysis by the Waco-based Perryman Group, which analyzes the financial impact of the legislation.
Tarrant County could lose up to $ 1 billion to tourism and economic development and about 9,000 jobs, according to analysis.
Tarrant County’s Judge Glen Whitley said the county had a delegation in Austin trying to convince lawmakers that SB7 is not good for the state or the county. Aside from trying to convince lawmakers, there is very little the county can do about this legislation.
Whitley admits the bill would make it harder for people to vote. The county prides itself on having more than 300 polling stations that are convenient for County Tarrant voters.
The best outcome is that the state recognizes that counties are best run elections, Whitley said. It has been like this since the founding of the state.
“One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party is local control, and a lot of the Republicans down there seem to have forgotten that,” said Whitley.
Ray Perryman, President and CEO of the Perryman Group, said his group had studied the economic impact of electoral laws from the Voting Act of 1965.
Revenue from outside the state like major conventions, general tourism, and sporting events like the MLB or the NCAA don’t want to end up in a state that is perceived as discriminatory, Perryman said.
Republicans in Texas don’t really see the economic loss too much because they think it’s overrated, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.
Abbott didn’t seem impressed with the Georgia MLB’s decision. In response, he refused to ditch the ceremonial first place finish at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game in April.
Abbott went on to write that he will not be attending any MLB event and that the state will not attempt to host the All-Star game or any MLB event.
“It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only influenced by partisan politics but also perpetuates false political narratives,” Abbott wrote in a letter on April 5. This decision does not detract from the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization. This is excellent from top to bottom. “