Business groups oppose bill allowing refusal of service

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email
Large and small Kansas businesses say the bill would interfere with employer-employee relationships.

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Large and small Kansas businesses say they oppose a measure that allows businesses and employees to refuse service to homosexuals for religious reasons.

A day after Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said the bill that passed the House earlier in the week was unlikely to gain support in her chamber, the Kansas Employers for Liberty Coalition said Friday businesses have come together to oppose the bill.

The coalition said it is concerned about the bill interfering with employer-employee relationships in Kansas.

Tim Witsman, President of the Wichita Independent Business Association, said in a news release that WIBA has joined the coalition against House Bill 2453.

"Kansas has a long historical tradition of protecting the employee at will relationship," Witsman said. "That means employers can have a pure relationship of retaining their employee without the intervention of government mandates. HB 2453 flies in the face of that by intervening with that relationship."

Large businesses have announced their opposition to the bill, too. AT&T Kansas President Steve Hahn released a written statement announcing his company's opposition to the measure.

"As a major employer and retailer in Kansas, we strongly urge the Kansas Senate to reject HB 2453," the statement said. "This legislation is impossible to implement. The bill promotes discriminatory behavior by businesses against their customers; and, it interferes with AT&T's management of our employees. It eliminates the use of fair business practices with customers in Kansas."

Witsman, the Wichita Independent Business Association President worried the bill, if passed, could make it difficult to recruit new businesses to the state.

"While we believe this bill may have been brought with good intentions of protecting religious freedom, the unintended consequences far outweigh the good," Witsman said. "We want Kansas to be open for business. HB 2453 limits recruiting ability for workers and the state's ability to bring new visitors and businesses to Kansas."

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