Sen. Lee Bright's 'bathroom bill' hits legislative opposition

Published: Apr. 7, 2016 at 9:05 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2016 at 10:31 AM EDT
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Opposition began Thursday to an Upstate senator's effort to prevent transgender people from using public bathrooms or facilities of their choice. Some of that criticism coming again from Gov. Nikki Haley.

Spartanburg Sen. Lee Bright introduced his bill Wednesday afternoon.

Bright's so-called "bathroom bill" aims at a repeat of how a similar concept managed to move very quickly through the North Carolina legislature, but there are significant differences here.

First, the Bright bill itself, which doesn't go as far as the North Carolina version, but does attempt to stop cities and counties from passing or maintaining anti-discrimination laws covering transgender people.

North Carolina's bill known as HB2 also prohibits laws protecting housing and employment rights for people regardless of sexual orientation.

Bright's bill is up for debate and possible amendments that could make it more like HB2 next Wednesday. But unlike North Carolina, the governor here put her foot down on the idea that we have a problem requiring a legislative remedy.

"What I'm telling you is we haven't had any instances come to this office from any municipalities or citizens that have implied that we have any sort of issues with that in South Carolina," Haley said. "You know don't forget the underlying situation is that businesses get to decide how they want to deal with this. And so the businesses in South Carolina have very much shown respect and customers have shown respect back and this has been decisions that have happened in every place and every business in South Carolina and has handled it well. And so while other states are having this battle, this is not a battle that we have seen is needed in South Carolina and it's not something that we see that the citizens are asking for in South Carolina."

The State Chamber of Commerce has also come out strongly against the bill. Speaking on behalf of the business community, President and CEO Ted Pitts, a former Haley Chief of Staff, issued a statement.

"South Carolina businesses don't need the government telling them how to run their business. The governor has called the bill unnecessary and the State Chamber strongly agrees.

"Senator Bright is trying to create a political crisis that doesn't exist to save his political career."

Bright is up for re-election and faces three GOP primary opponents. Haley also said the bill is not going to make the May 1 deadline to pass the Senate.

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