Two bills that attempt to regulate where transgender people can use the bathroom will not get a vote in the Kentucky House of Representatives, House Speaker Jeff Hoover said Thursday.
“It’s dead, wherever it is,” Hoover said of House Bill 106.
Republican leaders in Frankfort have been wary of the issue after seeing controversy erupt when North Carolina passed a bill that required people to use a bathroom corresponding with their biological sex. The state was boycotted by several businesses because of the law, including the NCAA, and the governor who signed the bill lost reelection.
But conservative groups in Kentucky have continued pushing the General Assembly to pass a similar law.
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“We know there is a lot of support among rank and file Republicans for the legislation,” said Martin Cothran, a spokesman for The Family Foundation.
Cothran said his organization supports House Bill 141, a bill that focuses on restrooms in public schools, rather than HB 106, which was nearly identical to the North Carolina legislation.
But when asked if HB 141 has a better chance, Hoover shot it down.
“It’s just as dead,” said Hoover, R-Jamestown.
GOP leaders have repeatedly said a transgender bathroom bill is not among their priorities this year, despite the fact that some Republican members campaigned on the subject in their successful fall elections.
In a news conference in December, Gov. Matt Bevin described legislation on the topic as a solution looking for a problem.
“Why would anybody need it? Is it an issue? Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom?” Bevin said at the time. “Seriously. Have you heard of one person in Kentucky having trouble taking care of business in Kentucky?”
Both of the pending proposals in the General Assembly are sponsored by state Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro. Last year, a similar bill proposed by a Republican won approval in the Senate but died in the House, which was then controlled by Democrats.
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins said he has not paid close attention to Nelson’s bills since Hoover said they wouldn’t go far in this year’s session.
“We really have not talked about the bill,” Adkins said. “We’ve heard what Speaker Hoover has said about the bill that it’s not going to move forward this session, so we’ve really not had a line of conversation.”
Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said he is glad the bills are dead.
“That’s great news for the commonwealth,” Hartman said. “Not only does it protect transgender Kentuckians, but it also protects the economy of Kentucky, which can’t become North Carolina.”