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Texas legislators fear bathroom bill could cost state billions

(BUSINESS NEWS) Texas business leaders have staked their opposition to the proposed bathroom bill in the upcoming Texas legislative session, fearing that passage would potentially cost businesses in the state billions.

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Battleground Texas

Texas business leaders this week staked their opposition to proposed Republican bills in the upcoming Texas legislative session, fearing that their passage would potentially cost businesses in the state billions.

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The two bills are widely perceived to be anti-LGBT, and, if passed would prevent transgendered individuals from selecting the restroom that aligns with their selected gender identity and would provide legal protections to individuals who objected to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

Economic impact

The Texas Association of Business (TAB) identified in a recently released report that the passage and implementation of these two bills could cost the state between $964 million and $8.5 billion and nearly 200,000 jobs.

“The message from the Texas business community is loud and clear,” Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, said at a news conference announcing the release of the report. “Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”

Projected hits and losses

The economic impact study was conducted by researchers from St. Edward’s University and projected the loss of business based primarily on a loss of tourism to the state, and the ability to host prestigious events, such as the upcoming Super Bowl in February 2017 in Houston.

The projections were based, in part, to the fallout that other states, such as North Carolina and Indiana, with similar laws have seen.

North Carolina, in particular, has borne the brunt of the economic impact resulting from similar laws. . Major sporting events, such as multiple NCAA championship events and the NBA All-Star Game, have cancelled and moved to other states.

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A growing number of companies, such as PayPal and Deutsche Bank declined to move forward with previously announced plans to expand in the state, costing the economy 650 jobs.

The rift between the TAB and state Republican leaders in the legislature is rare; while their interests seldom diverge, on this topic the gulf appears to be fixed between the two organizations. However, there is not uniformity within the Republican Party on the topic.

Republican divide

The state’s top Republican leaders, starting with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, have indicated their dedication to filing the bills, in the form of Senate Bill 6, and fighting for their passage in the upcoming legislative session.

“TAB has a track record of partnering with liberal anti-traditional family groups, opposing religious freedom and supporting ordinances that prosecute citizens for believing in traditional marriage,” wrote Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), in a recent blog post on the topic at the Texas Tribune decrying the results of the study.

“TAB recently claimed that the Texas economy would lose billions of dollars unless Texas buckled to political correctness and sacrificed the safety and privacy of women. However, a considerable portion of the lost dollars TAB references are in the idea that Houston would lose the opportunity to host the Super Bowl — a specious claim considering the game is only two months away.

Speaker of the House Joe Straus has gone on record as saying that Patrick’s agenda isn’t “the most urgent concern of mine.”

Bipartisan support

TAB’s report garnered support from both sides of the aisle, but most notably from Republicans who align with Straus.

“Texas needs to continue to strive for excellence in education, infrastructure, and health,” said State Representative Sarah Davis (R-Houston), a supporter of TAB’s position.

“Those priorities – not divisive issues that won’t move our state forward – deserve our time and attention. We need to protect our tourism industry, attract investment, and provide a healthy environment for small businesses to thrive. I stand with the business community in their commitment to safeguarding the economic health of the Lone Star State.”

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However, the populace may be more inclined to agree with Patrick’s camp. In a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, surveyed voters, and voters which identified as Republican in particular, identified that they aligned more closely with the socially conservative voices, with 51 percent of respondents and 76 percent among self-identified Republicans stating that they felt that individuals should be required to use the restrooms that aligned with their gender at birth.

“Keep Texas Open for Business”

The association moved beyond the mere release of their report in an attempt to forestall the passage of the bills, creating their “Keep Texas Open for Business” initiative. While the effort has not yet seen a large number of businesses join the campaign, those that have include such industry leaders as Apple, IBM, and Intel.

The aim of the initiative is focused solely on defeating bills that would, in the purview of TAB, be discriminatory against the LGBTQ population in Texas.

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“Discriminatory legislation is bad for business. Our economic study points to the dire and far-reaching impact of discriminatory legislation on Texas businesses, our communities, families, jobs and the larger state economy,” said Chris Wallace, President of the Texas Association of Business (TAB). “We must Keep Texas Open for Business. We cannot slam the door on the Texas Miracle of openness, competitiveness, economic opportunity and innovation.”

Read the study for yourself

Texans know that anything may happen in a legislative session and that original forms of bills filed rarely look the same upon their passage, if they reach the governor’s desk.

The polarizing positions taken by each side seem to allow little room for compromise; the TAB predicts a catastrophic loss of business and tourism to the state should the bills pass, in any form, whereas the socially conservative Republicans hold dear to the tenet that allowing transgendered individuals to use the restroom of their choice would lead to an unsafe environment for citizens of the state and that the prediction that business and tourism will collapse is a canard.

Ultimately, with the whirlwind of the Texas legislative session upon us, a wait-and-see approach is the only one that both sides can take with clarity.

The complete economic impact study is available online at http://KeepTXOpen.org/Study.

#BathroomBill

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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