California has expanded the number of states that state employees are prohibited from visiting on official business. During a news conference in San Francisco, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that state employees could no longer travel to South Dakota, Texas, Kentucky, and Alabama on state business. According to Becerra, the move was in response to the fact that each of the states had recently passed laws that could infringe on the constitutional rights of those living in or traveling to those states.
California also barred state-sanctioned travel to Mississippi, Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee last year after they passed laws that were widely condemned as being discriminatory against the LGBT community. The restrictions were first put in place by Kamala Harris, California’s former attorney general, after the North Carolina legislature passed a law overturning a Charlotte city ordinance that allowed transgender individuals to use the public restroom of their gender identity rather than the gender on their birth certificate. North Carolina’s “bathroom law,” which required individuals to use the bathroom matching the gender on their birth certificate, prompted the cancellation of a number of sporting and entertainment events and resulted in a number of businesses leaving the state.
Becerra called the travel restriction a “consequence” of state-sanctioned discrimination. He went on to say that the country has made significant steps in dismantling laws that discriminate against various groups but that prejudicial laws still exist in parts of the country. The travel restriction applies to all state agencies, commissions, boards, authorities, departments, and schools. The rule does not apply to college athletic teams traveling to the affected states to play games.
In a statement praising Becerra’s decision, the executive director of Equality California, Rick Zbur, said that laws like those passed in the restricted states are against California values and that “…it is imperative that California continues to denounce [discriminatory] actions publicly and financially.”
Becerra has not ruled out the possibility of expanding the list if more states should pass laws that could be considered discriminatory.