Armed with historic majorities in the state legislature for the first time, Kentucky’s Republican governor still says he will not use the state’s new GOP majority to push through a bathroom bill restricting transgender use of public facilities..
Matt Bevin told reporters he saw no need for Kentucky to pass a bathroom bill like the one in North Carolina that says people in schools and government buildings must use bathrooms according to the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a bathroom bill two years ago, but it died in the then Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Incoming GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover says there is considerable interest among the new Republican majority to revive the proposal.
“Why would we?” asks Bevin, who apparently has no interest in exploiting what is known as potty politics to rile up the GOP’s far-right religious base.
“Is there anyone you know in Kentucky (who) has trouble going to the bathroom?” he asks. “The last thing we need is more government rules. I’m cutting red tape, not creating it.”
In 2015, a public Louisville high school allowed a transgender student to choose which bathroom to use. The decision was vetted and approved by the school’s council of parents and administrators, a process the Legislature set up in 1990 for schools to make their own policy decisions.
Earlier this year, Bevin joined a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s directive that public schools allow students to choose the bathroom based on their gender identity or risk losing federal funding.
Bevin says the federal directive “caused people great alarm far and wide across the commonwealth” and he criticized Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear for not joining the lawsuit.
The bathroom law signed by North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory drew condemnation from out-of-state corporate CEOs and prompted the NCAA to remove some postseason athletic championships from the state, including the opening rounds of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. McCrory narrowly lost re-election last month.
Bevin said his administration will focus on passing laws that ban mandatory union membership and eliminate the state’s prevailing wage law. The latter supports higher wages for construction workers on government projects, with the goal of bolstering pay in the private sector.
Bevan also vows to reform the state’s tax code by eliminating some tax exemptions and lowering the overall rate.
“Those are the things the people of Kentucky voted overwhelmingly for a new direction and want to see votes on,” he says.