Business likes customers. It needs employees. Legislation that looks an awful lot like it’s designed to protect discrimination against folks that might be customers or employees…well, that’s not so good for business. Belatedly, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has come out with a statement expressing opposition to HB1228, the so-called “religious conscience” bill from Rep. Bob Ballinger that has been condemned by various companies in and out of the state. The statement from Graham Cobb, Chief Operating Officer of the Little Rock Chamber:
As the principal business organization responsible for fostering the economic growth and development of the Little Rock Region, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce supports an open and fair workplace and equitable business environment for all. While we believe that HB 1228 seeks to protect the religious freedoms of all Arkansans, it can be interpreted to provide religious protection for Arkansans who choose to discriminate against other Arkansans. This is bad for business and bad for Arkansas. Unless and until this issue is clarified by amendment in HB 1228, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is against the bill.
Note that the Chamber hints at suggesting an amendment “clarifying” that the bill does not extend enhanced protection for discrimination, an idea that was floated this week but has gone nowhere so far.