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SC transgender bathroom bill dead

Transgender teen and mother advocate for rights

A Columbia middle school student and his mother testified on behalf of the transgender community saying "bathroom bill" is unnecessary
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A Columbia middle school student and his mother testified on behalf of the transgender community saying "bathroom bill" is unnecessary

A bill to prevent transgender men and women from using the bathroom or locker rooms of their choice is dead for the year.

Sponsored by state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, the legislation will miss Sunday’s crossover deadline for bills to pass from one legislative chamber to the other. Bills that do not have that deadline have almost no chance of passing this year.

Lawmakers head home for the weekend after Thursday’s session. And, as of Wednesday, Bright only had four of the nine votes needed to bring his bill directly to the Senate floor for a vote.

With his bill certain to fail, Bright was planning another way to advance his agenda Wednesday.

When the state budget comes up for debate next week, Bright said he will try to add a proposal to ban state aid to local governments that pass laws requiring businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms of their choice. Local governments that require that are telling businesses “how to run their restrooms,” he said.

Bright said he has high hopes that his no-aid proposal will pass. “We’d rather have the full bill, but we’ll take what we can get.”

Bright introduced his bill after North Carolina adopted its controversial transgender bathroom law.

In two days of hearings, supporters of the proposal were outnumbered by opponents, including transgender high-school students and their parents who said the bill could place transgender students in harm’s way by outing them to other students – requiring them to use the bathrooms of their biological birth sex instead of the gender with which they identify.

Even if Bright’s bill were to reach the Senate floor, Democrats have vowed to block it.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley also has said the bill was unnecessary and “going nowhere” this year.

Bright said Wednesday he would reintroduce his original transgender bathroom bill next year if he wins re-election. Three Republicans are challenging Bright in the June GOP primary.

“We’re not going to sacrifice the privacy and safety of 99.7 percent of the population because 0.3 percent is confused about their gender identity.”

Crossover deadline nears

A look at some legislation that moved from one chamber to the other in time to make Sunday’s crossover deadline:

School facilities: A bill allowing the state to borrow up to $200 million a year for school districts to use to renovate facilities or build new ones passed the House and goes to the Senate.

Disturbing schools: A bill to exempt students from being charged with disturbing schools did not make it out of committee, meaning it is dead for the year.

Roads: The House and Senate have passed legislation aimed at spending more money to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. The differing proposals now must be reconciled.

Senate OKs 2 ethics bills

The S.C. Senate gave final approval to two ethics reform bills Wednesday.

One would require public officials, including state lawmakers, to disclose the private sources of their income. The other would end the practice of lawmakers policing themselves by creating an independent panel to review serious ethics complaints.

The House and Senate Ethics committees only would review technical violations of House or Senate rules, such as unintentional omissions of information on an income disclosure or campaign finance report.

The bills now return to the House to consider the Senate's changes.