Our view: Lawmakers should focus on jobs not bathrooms this session 

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, January 5, 2017

On Tuesday, Rep. Rick Nelson (D-Middlesboro) filed two socially conservative bills in the Kentucky House. The bills focused on issues Republican leaders, including Gov. Matt Bevin, have de-emphasized in anticipation of the upcoming General Assembly.

One of the bills Nelson filed, House Bill 106, focuses on the issue of transgender people and what bathroom they should use. The bill would require public schools, state universities, and state and local governments to designate bathrooms be used according to a person’s biological sex.

However, Republican leaders have said since the recent election the emphasis in the upcoming legislative sessions should be on bills to create jobs and boost the state’s economy. We couldn’t agree more.

Bevin went as far to say the topic of which bathroom someone should use is basically a non-issue. During a press conference in December Bevin asked reporters, “Is that an issue? Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom?” He added, “Making government rules for things that don’t need government rules would be silly.”

The issue of transgender bathrooms grew from a social issue to an economic one when North Carolina passed a law that included bathroom restrictions for transgender people. Soon after, a number of jobs, potential business investments and other economic boosters began leaving the state in response to the legislation.

When it comes to what our elected leaders need to focus on, economic growth should be of utmost priority. Following North Carolina’s example would be a misstep for legislators who were elected on promises to improve job growth and address other pressing issues like Kentucky’s pension crisis.

To focus on something like bathroom policies, especially when they have proven detrimental in other states, would be a disservice to constituents.

We don’t believe the topic of bathrooms is a non-issue, but we believe there are other obstacles facing our state that are much more important and urge our elected officials to focus on those issues first.