California's attorney general blocked state-funded travel to Texas and three other states yesterday in response to what he considers anti-LGBT rights laws enacted this year.
Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra added Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and Kentucky to the list of places where state employee travel is restricted. Lawmakers passed legislation last year banning non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are already on the list.
California taxpayers' money "will not be used to let people travel to states who chose to discriminate," Becerra said.
It's unclear what practical effect California's travel ban will have. The state law contains exemptions for some trips, such as travel needed to enforce California law and to honor contracts made before 2017. Travel to conferences or out-of-state trainings are examples of trips that could be blocked. Becerra's office couldn't provide information about how often state employees have visited the newly banned states.
Texas was added to the list because of a law that lets child welfare organizations deny services and adoptions to families because of "sincerely held religious beliefs" that Becerra's office says would allow LGBT discrimination. Similar laws were enacted in Alabama and South Dakota. Kentucky's new law could allow LGBT discrimination in schools, according to Becerra's office.
"California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can't stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas," said John Wittman, a spokesman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican.
Fresno State, a public California university, is scheduled to play football against the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa this fall. A request for a legal opinion on whether public university sports' travel is exempt from the ban has been filed with Becerra's office, but no ruling has been issued.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's press office did not have an immediate comment.