Tennessee’s scathing response to California travel ban: Keep your ‘unfounded moral judgment’ to yourself

Tennessee lawmakers have something to say to their counterparts in California.

In January, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the state would no longer fund employee travel to four states – Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Now, with Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas added to the list after each passed laws California officials described as discriminatory towards the LGBT community, a measure passed by Nashville lawmakers in May is making the rounds again.

The resolution – introduced in February and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on May 4- calls California to task for what Tennessee lawmakers described as “blackmail.”

Here’s the text of the resolution:

“Whereas, California has passed legislation banning state sponsored travel to Tennessee and certain other states; and

Whereas, the ban stems from legislation enacted by Tennessee that allows counselors to refer patients to other counselors who can better meet their goals, which the California State Legislature has judged to be morally reprehensible; and

Whereas, California’s attempt to influence public policy in our state is akin to Tennessee expressing its disapproval of California’s exorbitant taxes, spiraling budget deficits, runaway social welfare programs, and rampant illegal immigration; and

Whereas, Tennessee is pleasantly surprised that California will not be sending its economic development teams to Tennessee to recruit our businesses, but we can still send our teams to recruit their businesses; and

Whereas, Tennessee is puzzled why California thinks it is a good idea to prohibit its state colleges and universities from participating in athletic competition in Tennessee (March Madness comes to Memphis this year via the South Regional), Kansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina; and

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Whereas, this type of ban, the result of legitimate disagreements about government policy, is neither persuasive nor productive for either party and will lead to economic warfare among states, as one sovereign entity attempts to tell an equally sovereign entity how to conduct its affairs by restricting travel thereto; and

Whereas, the United States Constitution provides for a strong federal government for the common defense, but the Tenth Amendment grants the several states sovereignty in addressing issues solely within their jurisdiction, and all states should respect this most basic precept of American government; and

Whereas, if states such as California persist in banning travel to Tennessee as a punitive action for this body conducting its constitutionally mandated duties as its members see fit, our state leaders should consider strong reciprocal action in banning state sponsored travel to those misguided states; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED TENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that we urge and encourage the Governor, the Speaker of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ban state -sponsored and state funded travel within their respective jurisdictions to any state of the Union that has banned state – sponsored travel to Tennessee in a selective way, so that the other states feel the pain and not Tennessee

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the other forty-eight states to refrain from imposing their unfounded moral judgment on their sister states as California has done in order to prevent escalating foolishness

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BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and the American Legislative Exchange Council and that a certified copy of this resolution be sent electronically to each member of each state legislative body in the nation, so they may also consider taking action against this type of blackmail.”

California’s AB 1887 went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. It prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states with laws that authorize or require discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or same-sex couples.

Each of the eight states under the travel ban have recently passed laws related to LGBT rights or religious expression.

Tennessee’s law allows state-licensed therapists to deny treatment to members of the LGBT community based on the counselor’s personal beliefs. Alabama’s newly enacted law allows adoption agencies to follow faith-based policies, including the option to not place children with gay couples.

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