Mayor Fischer says California travel ban is costing Louisville b - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor Fischer says California travel ban is costing Louisville business

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The California Attorney General's ban on state travel to Kentucky is already having an impact on Louisville.

Mayor Greg Fischer said two conventions have pulled out of Louisville, and he's concerned there could be more.

“I am very concerned about the effect of this travel ban,” Fischer told reporters Thursday.

Local business and civic leaders, including representatives from Greater Louisville Inc, UPS, Brown-Forman and the Louisville Sports Commission, joined Fischer to express concern about the ban imposed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, prohibiting state employees from traveling to Kentucky.

Fischer and Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said two major events scheduled for new convention center have pulled out. They said the city will lose an expected $2 million in economic impact. 

“They were not in California, and it wasn't about their attendees from California," Williams said. "It was just the perception that they didn't want for their attendees for this meeting is why pulled out of Louisville."

At issue is a new law protecting religious expression in Kentucky schools. Becerra and other critics said the law opens the door to discrimination against LGTBQ students. Fischer is worried others will follow California's lead.

“Convention-planners might simply accept the ban as evidence that our city practices discrimination and move on, and there couldn't be anything further from the truth,” he said.

Kentucky Gov.Matt Bevin, who signed the law, is downplaying the potential impact.

“It will have zero effect on Kentucky's economy. Zero," Bevin said. "It will be negligible, and it's a joke."

Fischer said House Speaker Jeff Hoover has promised to address the issue, but it is not clear how. Fisher said he wants leaders in Frankfort to send a clear message that the law is not intended to discriminate.

“The important thing is we need to get to work here," he said. "Everybody in Frankfort and Louisville and all cities in the state to address the perception issue, get it behind us quickly so we can continue to grow our economies."

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office confirmed he has spoken to Becerra, but a spokesperson would not comment on the nature of that conversation.

Fischer has also sent a letter to Becerra asking that Louisville be exempted from the ban because of the city’s history of inclusiveness.

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