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California Government Has Now Banned Travel to 26 States

Three states were recently included in the ban, which was enacted in 2016.

The government of California now prohibits official state travel to more than half the states, after Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the addition of Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming to the list. Official travel with public funds is no longer allowed to 26 states.

Bonta said the states were added to the list because of new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passed by those states’ legislatures. “These new laws enacted by Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming aren’t just discriminatory, they constitute a clear case of government overreach,” Bonta said in a statement. “It’s an alarming trend we’re witnessing across the country.”

California began banning official state travel in 2016 with the passage of Assembly Bill 1887 in response to a North Carolina law restricting access to bathrooms for transgender people. The California bill, to which states were later added, prohibits official state travel using public funds to states with discriminatory legislation targeting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The law applies to state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions, including the University of California and California State University systems. The law also only prohibits official travel on state business using public funds. Official travel conducted by state employees if they travel to banned states is funded from another source.

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There are exceptions for enforcement of the California law, including litigation, contractual obligations predating the bill, meetings required to acquire or maintain grant funding, job training unavailable in California or other states, or the protection of public health, welfare, or safety.

There are not exceptions, however, for athletic programs, which has put the state’s university systems in a bind when student athletes must compete in one of the listed states. In some cases, like San Diego State University’s basketball team’s participation in the Final Four, the NCAA funded the travel, allowing the athletes to compete, but outside funding isn’t always available.

The law has even stymied efforts by California’s legislature to provide a haven for citizens of other states who wish to travel to California for reproductive services. The state government allocated $20 million last year for women to travel to California if reproductive services were unavailable in their state after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but if the women were traveling from a state affected by the travel ban, they could only be provided with tickets to California—not return tickets home.

The ban also had the unintended consequence of restricting travel by state university professors and researchers who were traveling to conduct social justice research in other states. Collegiate level researchers, who are traveling in order to research discrimination in the states the California legislature has effectively censured for discriminatory laws, must find alternative, non-public funds to achieve their objectives.

California is not the only state to have restricted official travel due to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Washington, New York, Vermont, Minnesota and Connecticut issued similar restrictions in the wake of the 2016 bathroom bill, but many of the bans have since been rescinded.

California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins wants to do the same with AB 1887 in California. In May, a measure to replace the travel ban with funding for LGBTQ+ outreach messaging in other states advanced in the State Senate.

“California has long been a leader in inclusion and acceptance, and a beacon of hope for so many LGBTQ+ people, myself included,” said Atkins. “Hundreds of discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced this year alone–it’s unprecedented, and my heart hurts for all of the folks in other states where this is happening. The folks who feel alone and isolated. This bill is about reaching out to them with messages of support and understanding, and at the same time, helping open hearts and minds so that acceptance, instead of animosity, wins the day.”

At least 10% of California’s state legislature publicly identify as LGBTQ+, the highest percentage of any state legislature, and a slightly higher population than the share of state residents who said they were LGBTQ+ on the last census.

The states currently on the “banned” list include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

harlanthacker5154 July 25, 2023

It's my sincere hope that after UCLA joins the Big 10, if they refuse to travel to road games in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, or Ohio, the Big 10 calls each instance a forfeit.

randallweber4916 July 23, 2023

This sounds like a discriminatory move by California and if they're hoping for these banned states to change their views it might be prudent to allow CA state officials the opportunity to visit these states to start a dialog. Of course we've seen the concept of I'm right and you're wrong play out throughout the US in abundance over the past 10 years


The NCAA prohibits all of its members from excluding men who identify as women from women's sports but the stands are still full and protests are miniscule. 

davidturk1325 July 19, 2023

Why should the NCAA fund travel for California public school teams? Who pays for public high school team to compete in those states?

104goodbuddy July 19, 2023

I was born there and most of my family is there still.  I think Ca has a lot more to worry about than this (i.e. crime, homelessness, drugs). Have you seen the cost of living!  I here gunshots outside my uncle's house and he lives in the middle of nowhere!  And it's not hunters!  Besides, people and businesses are leaving the state in droves.  I see it here in Az.  Lot more Ca transplants here.  Ca leaders need to repriority their brains or there will be no one to tax.