Hey Chambers of Commerce – why the silence? Skip to content

Hey Chambers of Commerce – why the silence?

Their silence on the anti-trans bill is deafening.

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A few years ago, the Repubs in North Carolina put forward a “bathroom bill.” They pushed it through the legislature, then their governor signed it.

Then all hell broke loose.

The NBA relocated its All-Star Game. PayPal canceled plans for a facility in the state. The NCAA avoided hosting any of their championships in North Carolina. All in all, the Associated Press estimated that the anti-LGBTQ bill would cost the state more than $3.76 billion over ten years.

About the same time, some Kentucky lawmakers started talking about a bathroom bill for Kentucky. But not only did the Republican leadership put the quietus on it, and Matt Bevin call the bill “silly,” the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce had something to say as well. No doubt observing the disaster such a bill was for North Carolina, the president of the KY CofC, Dave Adkisson, told the Courier-Journal, “We agree with the governor that there’s no need for such a bill. We would oppose discriminatory legislation that would discourage anyone from doing business in Kentucky.”

That was then. This is now.

This year, after Republicans in Frankfort passed the nation’s worst anti-trans bill, SB 150, there was hope that businesses across the state, as well as various chambers, would let lawmakers know in no uncertain terms that the bill was bad for Kentucky and especially bad for Kentucky businesses. There was hope that pressure from companies and their representatives, the various Chambers, would cause the Republicans to re-think the bill.

But so far, the only sound coming out of the KY Chamber is ... crickets.

Ditto for Commerce Lexington and the NKY Chamber.

We reached out to all of their communications departments to see if there had been a statement we had missed, but once again – crickets.

Apparently these Chambers of Commerce are either okay with the bill, or afraid to speak out – unlike five years ago.

Not all chambers were silent. When we contacted Greater Louisville Inc, the chamber for Louisville, we got this almost immediate reply:

“Greater Louisville Inc. is extremely disappointed to see the General Assembly pass Senate Bill 150, which includes language from House Bill 470 that hurts our LGBTQ+ community. We have worked with partners to oppose this legislation, and other discriminatory bills, over the past several years. The business community remains concerned that this legislation will be detrimental to our economic development efforts and diminish progress made to make Louisville an inclusive community.”

Governor Beshear has vetoed the bill, but it is expected that in a few days the Republicans in Frankfort will override his veto and make this bill the law of the Commonwealth. If the KY Chamber decided to weigh in against the bill, it seems obvious that lawmakers would listen – especially since the Chamber has made over $70,000 in political donations to members of the General Assembly over the past two elections.

So we wind up with the same question that’s in the title:

Why the silence, Kentucky Chamber? Why the silence, Commerce Lexington? Why the silence, NKY Chamber?

Why the silence?

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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