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Senate GOP bans trans-inclusive contractor policies

Lacey Daley
Boise State Public Radio

Senate Republicans say Idaho’s government agencies can’t force public works contractors to allow transgender workers to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The bill passed Wednesday along party lines and doesn’t apply to single-occupancy or family bathrooms. Contractors can be inclusive of their trans employees if they choose.

“Public works contractors have complete liberty to do as they will, which is why I like the design of this legislation,” said Sen. Scott Herndon (R-Sagle), the bill’s sponsor.

Herndon brought the bill after a constituent in North Idaho felt bidding on a contract with trans-inclusive requirements would violate his religious beliefs.

During a public hearing, he said that contract out of Bonner County was backed by federal dollars and wouldn’t fall under the purview of this bill.

Herndon’s fellow Republicans commended the bill during a short debate.

“I think this bill is based on common sense and it also represents the wishes of the majority of most Idahoans,” said Sen. Dan Foreman (R-Moscow).

But Democrats said it was just another attack on transgender Idahoans.

“We have nondiscrimination policies in laws for a reason,” said Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise). “We want to make sure that people can actually work and be comfortable on a site and be who they are so they can care for their families.”

Plus, Wintrow said, it would be difficult to police who’s allowed to be in which bathroom.

The proposed legislation defines a person’s “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female as stated on a person's birth certificate.”

But Idaho allows transgender people to change the sex listed on their birth certificates. That came after multiple court decisions found legislators had violated the constitutional rights of transgender people by barring them from doing so.

Herndon’s bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!