Columbia, SC (The Greenville News) - Proposal by Sen. Lee Bright to withhold funds to local governments that pass certain bathroom ordinances has failed, likely ending any legislative debate on the issue this year.
Bright's proposal came as the Senate began debating its version of the budget for the fiscal year starting in July.
The proviso would have withheld funds from any local government if it adopted any ordinance or regulation "requiring a business to allow a person to use a restroom, dressing room, or shower room different than the restroom, dressing room or shower room designated for that person's sex as identified on that person's birth certificate."
But senators asked that the proposal be ruled out of order citing a rule that requires amendments be germane and not alter permanent law.
Bright argued that because the state maintains a local government fund and often alters the amount of money going into the fund, there is precedent to amend the budget that way.
But Lieutenant Gov. Henry McMaster, without elaboration, sustained the point of order, killing the proviso.
Ted Pitts, the CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, told The Greenville News that if lawmakers allowed Bright to address the issue in the budget it would be "bad for South Carolina jobs."
"It's one politician's effort to try and be relevant in an election year where he is worried ab out his political career," he said.
Bright was the chief sponsor of a controversial bill that would bar people from using public bathrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their biological sex and prevent local governments from passing legislation allowing such use.
The bill failed to collect enough votes to get out of the Senate General Committee, which held two hearings on the matter.
The legislation was modeled on a recently enacted North Carolina law that has spawned controversy, protests and a move to repeal the law. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order several weeks ago addressing some provisions in the law though leaving unchanged the most talked about part that requires people to use bathrooms of their sex at birth.
Opponents of the bill, including transgender adults and youth, said if passed the bill could trigger further harassment and violence against transgender people and was unnecessary. Three mayors spoke against the bill as well as former State Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, who warned it could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding because it violated federal law.
Proponents of the bill said it was needed to protect children and adult females from people posing as transgender females.