A dozen S.C. business groups sent a letter Tuesday to the General Assembly asking legislators to halt consideration of a controversial Senate bill that would ban transgender men and women from using the bathrooms of their choice.
“The Palmetto State has built a reputation as a welcoming place for world-class companies to call home. People are taking notice of South Carolina for all the right reasons,” said the letter signed by “The South Carolina Business Community.” If the bill moves forward, “make no mistake that it will have direct impact on South Carolina jobs and job prospects.”
The groups signing Tuesday’s letter included statewide organizations — the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance, S.C. Economic Developers Association and S.C. Hospital Association — as well as chambers of commerce in Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Greenville, Greenwood, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Spartanburg.
South Carolina’s bill is three votes shy of the nine needed to move it to the floor of the state Senate for debate and a possible vote, the proposal’s chief sponsor, Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, said Tuesday.
Bright also said he expects a similar bill to be introduced in the S.C. House as early as Wednesday, increasing the chances of a bathroom ban winning approval in one of the General Assembly’s two chambers before a May 1 deadline.
Bright declined to name the other senators agreeing to vote the bill out of committee other than its co-sponsor, Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson. Bright also declined to name the House members looking to introduce a transgender bathroom bill.
“Public policy will not be dictated by the loudest minority,” Bright said of the business groups’ letter. “This is about safety and sanity.”
Bright said some businesses might leave South Carolina unless lawmakers pass a transgender bathroom law. “This is a double-edged sword.”
The state chamber, one of the groups signing Tuesday’s letter, has started efforts to unseat Bright, who is seeking a third term this year.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who once endorsed Bright, has said his bill is unnecessary, and Senate Democrats have vowed to block the bill.