The 21-10 final vote on Wednesday came over opposition from big business, the NFL and hundreds of people who packed the Texas Capitol last week during 13 hours of public testimony.
The measure would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.
The hot-button issue was a Senate priority. But Republican House Speaker Joe Straus has publicly and repeatedly denounced the proposal as bad for business. He has stopped short of declaring the bill dead on arrival but his opposition is significant.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott also hasn't taken a clear public stance on the bill.
ORIGINAL STORY: Texas Senate tentatively passes 'bathroom bill'
BUSINESSES, SPORTS LEAGUES THREATEN BOYCOTTS
The North Carolina law prompted the NCAA to pull seven championship events out of the state, the NBA to move the All-Star game from Charlotte and contributed to former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory getting voted out in November.
The NBA and NFL have lobbed similar warnings to Texas, but Republicans are undeterred. "I believe their threats are real. But I also have great concern about the NCAA, NFL, NBA you name it, dictating policy not just to this state, but any state," Kolkhorst said.
Microsoft, Intel and United Airlines are among dozens of companies that signed onto a letter that says the measure will hurt its ability to recruit top workers.
RELATED: NFL more forceful on Texas 'bathroom bill' after Super Bowl
NEW NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR TRYING TO REPEAL
Texas is trying to follow North Carolina's law at a time when that state's new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, is trying to repeal it. Cooper said in his first State of the State address this week that people are sick of the law and wondering whether "this heavy anchor weighing us down" will be cut away. But potential compromises with Republicans have crumbled since December.
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