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Kentucky GOP looks for payback after California bars travel to Bluegrass State

Kentucky State Capitol Dome in Frankfort
The Kentucky State Capitol Dome in Frankfort. (iStock)

Kentucky GOP looks for payback after California bars travel to Bluegrass State

May 23, 12:06 PM May 23, 12:06 PM

Kentucky Republicans are looking to get even with California after its former attorney general banned taxpayer-funded travel to their state due to a law Californian leaders viewed as discriminatory against gay people.

“We don’t want California trying to replace our values with theirs,” said Republican state Sen. Stephen Meredith of Leitchfield.

The new effort would prevent a pair of California companies from operating in the Bluegrass State, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Meredith, also chairman of the Kentucky Legislature’s Government Contract Review Committee, said his committee will lead a review of two contracts totaling half a million dollars that California would earn through services rendered to the University of Louisville — if they are approved by the committee.

One contract, worth $373,600, would allow Korn Ferry International of Los Angeles to provide consulting services and help in the recruiting process to fill senior-level positions at the university.

A similar contract, worth $252,800, would allow SP&A Executive Search in Whittier, California, to assist in similar recruiting efforts.

“I think our committee will not approve those two contracts with California businesses. We hope they are changed to businesses elsewhere or canceled,” Meredith said.

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“If the state of California doesn’t want to do business with the state of Kentucky, Kentucky shouldn’t do business with the state of California,” added Republican Rep. Mark Hart.

The review committee previously approved of other search-committee contracts for the school but is specifically looking to block any benefit to California after then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, now President Joe Biden’s health and human services secretary, barred state-funded travel to Kentucky in 2017.

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The ban came in response to the Kentucky Legislature passing, and Gov. Matt Bevin signing into law, Senate Bill 17.

The law, which allows religious and political groups leniency in how they select their members and leaders, was deemed anti-LGBTQ by the California attorney general, and the ban was enacted.

Other states, including Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas, enacted similar laws, and subsequent bans were enforced.

The press office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta has said the California ban will remain in place until the states repeal their respective laws.

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