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Haley calls bathroom bill unnecessary, says it won't move forward this year

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State Sen. Lee Bright’s bill to require individuals to use public bathrooms that correspond to their “biological sex” is unnecessary and won’t get any traction before the May 1 crossover deadline, Gov. Nikki Haley said today.

“Nothing is going to happen with this bill this year,” Haley said after a news conference detailing a change in the state’s administration of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

Haley said her office has heard of no issues that would make S.1203 necessary, from either those who feel their religious liberties are being violated or from those who feel their freedoms are being infringed upon.

“Businesses get to decide how they want to deal with this,” Haley said. “The businesses in South Carolina have very much shown respect, and their customers have shown respect back.”

A law recently passed in North Carolina that blocked local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances covering the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals has drawn backlash from the business community. Online payment company PayPal announced on Tuesday it was pulling a new global operations center and 400 future jobs from the state.

“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 we see that the citizens are asking for in South Carolina,” Haley said.

In introducing his bill, Bright, R-Spartanburg, said: “Now they want men who claim to be women to be able to go into the bathroom with children.”

“Senator Bright says a lot of things,” Haley said. “I don’t sit there and focus on a lot of things that Senator Bright says.”

Haley also reiterated her stance that it is now up to the House of Representatives to fix South Carolina’s ailing roads. The House votes next week on a bill, passed by the Senate last month, which would use $400 million annually from the general fund to cover state road repairs.

“The Senate has made it very clear that they won’t accept an amended bill,” Haley said. “The House is very aware that this is as much politics as it is policy. We finally got a great bill of policy. Now we need to stop and pull the politics aside. ... If the House chooses to send (an amended bill) to the Senate, they know it will die for the year. At best, it will be incredibly weakened, and that will be on the House’s head if they allow that to happen.”

In a letter to Haley last month, House Speaker Jay Lucas said the body would either agree to the Senate bill or pass an amendment to change the structure of the Department of Transportation. The House passed its own road funding plan last April that would raise South Carolina’s third-lowest-in-the-nation gas tax.

Haley said sources of funding for repairs in the bill could be better, but advised the House: “Concur with the bill this year. I have told House leadership I will work with them over the summer to get a direct funding stream.”

Reach staff writer Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7543.

Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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