SF bans travel, contracts in 4 states

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday February 8, 2017
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San Francisco will ban taxpayer-funded travel to four<br>states, including Kansas.
San Francisco will ban taxpayer-funded travel to four
states, including Kansas.

Starting Saturday, February 11, San Francisco will no longer allow city employees to travel to four states, or allow city agencies to contract with businesses headquartered in those states, due to their enacting anti-LGBT laws since June 26, 2015.

The quartet of states " Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas " mirrors the ones that California officials are banned from traveling to using taxpayer money. The state implemented its ban, which also covers the University of California and California State systems, on January 1.

While a number of other states and local jurisdictions have banned using tax dollars to cover the cost of their employees' travel to states with laws that allow for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, San Francisco is believed to be the first to ban doing business with companies in those states.

"I am thrilled that we are finally taking this step and putting states on the list. It is a big step forward," said gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who prior to his resigning as a supervisor in early December was the main sponsor of the city's travel and contract ban ordinance.

According to the city administrator's office, during Fiscal Year 2014-2015 the city made purchases from 232 companies from states on the banned list. The breakdown by state was 48 in Kansas, 124 in Mississippi, 26 in North Carolina, and 34 in Tennessee.

"Contracts already signed or put out to bid will not be affected, as that would mean we have to do a new bidding process," said Jack Gallagher, a policy aide for City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

While the city administrator's office is tasked with keeping and updating the list of banned states, two departments will oversee its implementation. They will also approve or deny waivers of it, as exemptions were built into the ordinance.

The Office of the Controller, which oversees the travel and reimbursement of travel for the city and county, will handle waivers for the travel ban.

In regards to purchasing, the Office of Contract Administration will have purview and post on its website a waiver of the policy that departments can use. There are exemptions for contracts that involve bulk purchasing or grant funding.

One exemption covers contracts necessary to respond to an emergency that endangers public health or safety when there is no entity that complies with the contracting ban capable of immediately responding.

Another covers a situation where none of the qualified responsive bidders or prospective vendors for contracts the city deems essential is in compliance with the contracting ban. A waiver can also be granted if adhering to the contract ban would result in "an adverse impact on services or a substantial adverse financial impact on the city."

North Carolina made the banned list due to is House Bill 2, which was adopted last year and restricts cities in the state from enacting local non-discrimination laws and requires transgender people to use public restrooms based on the gender they were assigned at birth.

Mississippi falls under the ban for allowing its residents and businesses to discriminate based on their religious beliefs, while Tennessee made the list because last year it granted therapists and other mental health professionals the right to deny seeing LGBT patients and others for religious reasons.

Kansas was included for adopting a law in 2016 that allows campus-based religious groups to discriminate against LGBT students.