Bell suggests boycott of NCSL meeting in California

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, says state lawmakers should weigh boycotting next year’s National Conference of State Legislatures in California as retaliation over a state-funded travel ban issued against Tennessee’s 2016 counseling law targeting lesbians and gays, reports the Times-Free Press.

“I think that’s an example of something we should seriously consider not going to, because I think when we do, we give in to California and we support them in passing a policy or a law based on a disagreement with us,” Bell told Senate Finance Committee members Tuesday.

The Southeast Tennessee Republican’s comments came as he presented his resolution denouncing California (SJR111) in the Senate Finance Committee. Bell’s resolution accuses California of trying to “blackmail” Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kansas, all of which have passed measures that critics charge are anti-LGBT.

It narrowly passed the 11-member committee with six votes. Two lawmakers voted no and three, including Finance Committee Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson, abstained.

Note: The vote was 6-2 with three Republicans abstaining. Democratic Sen. Thelma of Nashville voted yes, giving the measure the majority it needed in the 11-member panel. The Tennessean reports that Harper’s vote was promptly denounced by the Davidson County Democratic Party chairman.

“Any support for any effort to discriminate against the LGBT community is reprehensible, outside the mainstream, and far, far outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party,” said Gary Bynum. “Democrats expect Democrats to support equality, full stop.”

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