AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for the first time Tuesday endorsed a "bathroom bill" and breathed new life into North Carolina-style efforts that businesses and LGBT rights groups hoped had stalled with time running out to sign into law.
Abbott's sudden public support following months of silence is significant. By now calling on the Republican-controlled Legislature to send him a bill before the end of May, Texas is thrust closer to joining North Carolina as the only states in the U.S. with so-called "bathroom bills" that critics condemn as discriminatory.
"As the debate on this issue continues, I will work with the House and Senate to ensure we find a solution and ultimately get a bill to my desk that I will sign into law," Abbott said in a statement.
The NBA, NFL and corporate giants including Facebook and Google have previously warned Texas against adopting a bill that was similar to the original North Carolina law. The version Abbott is now backing still lacks the support from Texas' top business lobby.
One prominent Texas economist this week put the potential impact at $3 billion, although Republicans have been skeptical of such studies.
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