California banned state-funded travel to over one-fourth of the country, with the addition of Florida and four other states to its boycott list this week.
The state’s travel-ban was put in place in 2016 as protest against states California believes discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. The first 12 states to make the list were Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia were added to California’s blacklist this week.
Under the ban, state employee travel is forbidden except under limited circumstances. For example, the state law has exemptions for travel needed to enforce California law and to honor contracts signed before the states were added to the list. However, travel to conferences or out-of-state training are forbidden.
Chairman of Leon County, Florida’s GOP Evan Power had a light-hearted take on the reasoning behind the ban on Twitter, “Obviously California is worried about their employees finding out the success that is the free state of Florida.”
But The California Attorney General was serious when he announced the ban.
“Make no mistake: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country — and the State of California is not going to support it,” Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
Bonita said the five new states were added because they have introduced bills in their legislatures this year that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, block access to health care and allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ community.
This year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill which he says protects women’s sports by only allowing biological females to participate on the women’s teams. He also vetoed $150,000 in mental health funding for families and survivors of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando. He drew sharp criticism for taking those actions just before the kickoff of Pride month and days before the five year anniversary of the Pulse tragedy.
Pushing back on that critics, DeSantis’ office points to the $212 million increase in funding for mental health services in this year’s state budget, saying claims that his veto hurts the Pulse survivors are “patently false.”
“Governor DeSantis has been a champion on mental health since day one — and he absolutely supports each and every Floridian who has experienced such horrific trauma, which has a lifelong impact on survivors,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s spokeswoman, told The Washington Post.
She added, “No Floridian in need should go without mental health care, and of course that includes survivors of horrific traumas like the Pulse shooting. The fact that Gov. DeSantis vetoed funds earmarked for a specific organization doesn’t negate his administration’s historic investments in mental health for all Floridians, including LGBTQ communities.”