The Sower rises above The Nebraska State Capitol in downtown Lincoln. (Getty Images)
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from University of California, Los Angeles Athletics.
LINCOLN — California plans to restrict state-funded travel to Nebraska later this year, adding the Cornhusker State to a list that includes more than half of the country.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Friday that Nebraska will be the 26th state to join the travel restrictions, citing Legislative Bill 574, which restricts gender-affirming care for minors. Gov. Jim Pillen signed the bill into law on May 22.
Nebraska will join the list Oct. 1 when those restrictions in LB 574 take effect.
Wyoming, effective immediately, and Missouri, effective after Aug. 28, will also join the list. Each passed gender care restrictions and varying bans restricting sports participation on the basis of gender identity this spring.
Nebraska’s LB 575, a proposal that would define K-12 bathrooms and sporting teams as male or female according to sex assigned at birth, remains in the Legislature’s Education Committee. Some lawmakers have questioned its need and whether its initiatives have already been addressed.
Bonta said the new bans are required under a California law (AB 1887) passed in 2016 that states, “California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination” against LGBTQ people.
The law prohibits employees and members of California agencies, departments, boards or commissions — as well as universities — from traveling to restricted states using state funds.
“These laws pose significant risks for deepening the stigmatization and alienation of LGBTQ+ youth who are already subject to pervasive discrimination, bullying and hate crimes,” Bonta said in a statement.
States may be removed from the list if their laws targeted by California are repealed or struck down. Nebraska’s LB 574 is being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland; the next court date is Wednesday.
Nebraska State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, who introduced LB 574 and LB 575, has said the bills are about protecting children. A number of Nebraska businesses and nonprofits and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce criticized the proposals as discriminatory.
Pillen’s office did not immediately respond to a request Monday for comment.
Big Ten Conference
All California state employees are included in the restrictions, though a major implication could be the addition of the University of California, Los Angeles to the Big Ten Conference next year as it plans to leave the Pac-12.
Under the law, UCLA faculty, staff and students could not use state funds to travel to Nebraska. Travel paid for or reimbursed through non-state funds is not affected, according to UCLA.
An interim report for the UC Board of Regents last summer stated UCLA athletics traditionally generates enough revenue to be almost entirely self-funded. The report noted that Utah, a Pac-12 member, is on the restricted list, and teams do not use state funds for travel to restricted states.
Indiana, Iowa and Ohio — Big Ten members — are already included on the prohibited list.
Scott Markley, spokesman for UCLA Athletics, told the Nebraska Examiner that should UCLA compete or recruit in a banned state, none of the costs for travel to that state would come from state funds.
“In addition, if a team competes in a banned state, student-athletes and staff will receive education about the relevant California law, the law at issue in the destination state and given the choice to opt out of travel with no risk of consequence,” Markley said in a statement.
The Big Ten also brings research opportunities, and University of Nebraska President Ted Carter and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Rodney Bennett have expressed their intent to expand NU’s research footprint in efforts to rejoin the Association of American Universities.
The California law includes seven exceptions for “required” travel, such as contractual obligations, litigation and meeting participation or training if required for a grant or to maintain grant funding.
Contracts must have been incurred before 2017 and would not apply to the Big Ten.
The University of Southern California, a private research university, plans to join the Big Ten next year alongside UCLA.
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