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Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday extended California’s ban on taxpayer-funded trips to a 10th state, adding South Carolina to a list of mostly southern states where public employees and college students can’t travel for official business.
Becerra’s office contends a South Carolina law allowing private faith-based groups to withhold adoption services over moral objections effectively permits discrimination against gay and transgender people.
That determination allows him to restrict taxpayer-funded travel to the state under a 2016 law that forbids public agencies from paying for business travel in states that have laws that California leaders view as discriminatory against gay and transgender people. The restriction goes into effect April 15.
“The State of South Carolina recently enacted a measure that sanctions discrimination against families in the placement of children in need of homes. The State of California stands strongly against any form of discrimination,” Becerra said in a news release.
Brian Symmes, a spokesman for South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Sacramento Bee.
“If Attorney General Becerra was interested in the truth, he would know this is all about protecting South Carolinians’ religious freedom – regardless of their faith,” Symmes told South Carolina newspaper The State. “While he tries to score cheap political points, we’ll be more than happy to continue recruiting businesses that are leaving overregulated, high tax states like California to come to South Carolina and create opportunities for our people.”
The California law, Assembly Bill 1887, was crafted as a response to so-called religious freedom laws. Its supporters say it withholds California taxpayer money from certain states, and keeps public employees out of situations where they might feel uncomfortable. There are exemptions for law enforcement and tax collection.
The law also forbids public colleges from participating in events on the no-travel list, although athletic programs have continued to attend games they’ve scheduled and other post-season events in states subject to the ban.
Other states on the banned travel list include Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky.