Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) this afternoon pitched a bathroom bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the kind of legislation Gov. Asa Hutchinson had hoped to discourage because of the damage it could do to the state economically.
She pulled the bill down for today when it became apparent she might lack necessary votes. Sen. Greg Standridge, a likely supporter, was absent and Collins-Smith couldn’t reach him for a phone vote. Sen. Trent Garner said he might support the bill, but he had some points of concern to address first. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, the chair and nephew of the governor, had expressed opposition to the bill. He said it addressed a problem that doesn’t exist. “We can’t legislate everything,” he said. A bill needs five votes to clear committee. The bill may come up again at a meeting Monday. Other committee members are Bryan King, Gary Stubblefield and Will Bond.
Her SB 774 requires restrooms or changing facilities in public buildings that accommodate more than one person to be designated for males or females and that they be used only by people with a gender at birth that matched the sign on the door. (Custodians are exempt.)
Private businesses can have their own bathroom policies. Just so you understand the rules:
(A) “Sex” means a person’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.
(B) A person’s original birth certificate may be relied upon to establish his or her sex.
No provision for ambiguous birth genders.
The bill gives a right to sue to a person who encounters a person of an impermissible gender in a restroom or locker room. They may make claims for non-economic damages, by the way.
Sen. Hutchinson observed, as we have a number of times, that the bill would legally force some “awkward” situations — men born as women who are now buffed up body builders with beards in women’s restrooms. And busty women might join men in their restrooms. (Of course, this happens already with nobody the wiser or harmed.)
We wrote earlier today of how the NCAA views punishing, mean legislation like this. It avoids states that do it, as it has done in North Carolina.
Michael Marion, director of the Verizon Arena, and Gretchen Hall, director of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke against the legislation. Our man in the meeting, Brian Chilson, said Collins-Smith was combative with both.
Hall asked how a convention facility was supposed to know, for example, who was really a woman. They can’t check birth certificates. “It’s your job to find a way,” Collins-Smith said brusquely.
Marion talked of facilities that have had numerous cancellations of musical groups in North Carolina because of a similar law, including one, Boston, with a scheduled date here. She claims her bill differs from North Carolina, though it’s not readily clear what the difference would be.
The audience was swollen by opponents. Opposition also came in testimony from Sarah Scanlon, who spoke of the experience of being mistaken for a man in a women’s restroom and how this bill would affect her.
The only supporter of the bill in evidence was Jerry Cox of the anti-gay Family Council.