Travel bans are a hot button issue in the United States. The national stage has seen a lot much political theatre over banning travel from certain countries on the basis of religion and politics. While a majority of Californians oppose the national travel ban, some might be shocked to find out that our state has implemented its own travel ban based on religious and political beliefs.
Last year, Capitol Democrats passed a law that banned publicly-funded travel to several states with laws on the books that they disagreed with. While any measure that saves state dollars is worth looking into, this law had some blatant flaws that were recently exposed by a surprising source: March Madness.
The UCLA Bruins have won their way to the Sweet 16, which is in Memphis, Tennessee this year. Tennessee happens to be one of the four states covered by the travel ban imposed by Capitol Democrats. UCLA, being a public university, suddenly found itself in a bind.
Fortunately, through some political maneuvering and a creative reading of the law, the Bruins basketball team was able to buy flights and book hotels for its trip to the Big Dance. Unfortunately, this mess of a law is still on the books, making things difficult for Californians who are not big-time athletes.
The truth is that trying to force the California state Legislature’s beliefs on other states is partisan politics at its worst. Our country is based on the idea of separation of powers, not just between the branches of government, but also state and federal governments. As leaders of the most populous and wealthy state in the union, California politicians are acting like bullies, and the student-athletes of UCLA nearly got caught up in the fight.
To right this wrong, I’ve introduced the Freedom to Fly Act, which will ensure that the majority party can no longer play politics with travel bans within America’s borders. My bill will end the current ban and prevent any future travel ban against other American states by California cities, counties or the state government.
Banning travel between American states also bans the free exchange of ideas. If the liberal politicians who came up with this ban are so confident in the righteousness of their cause, they should be promoting travel to spread their ideas.
As an American and a Californian, it’s my hope that we can bridge the partisan divide in our country through open minded conversations, the free exchange of ideas and, of course, America’s common passion for college sports.
Matthew Harper is an assemblyman representing the 74th district, which includes portions of Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Newport Beach.
State travel ban doesn’t pass its first test – OCRegister