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Fischer Wants State Lawmakers To Think Twice About Anti-LGBTQ Laws

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is warning Kentucky lawmakers against any legislation that could stymie economic interest in the state or its largest city.

He said the state legislature, now controlled by Republicans in the House and Senate for the first time in history, can "achieve anything they want."

"Let’s make sure that nothing negative happens in our community, in our state, regarding our ability to discriminate against anyone," he told WFPL News during an hour-long discussionlast week.

Controversial laws that protect so-called religious freedoms and those requiring public school students to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex have support among some conservatives in Kentucky, but they don't seem to be at the top of the legislative agenda.

The 2017 legislative session begins on January 3.

Leaders in the House and Senate have expressedtheir desire to keep focus on economic initiatives, including issues related "right-to-work," the prevailing wage and charter schools.

Senate President Robert Stivers saidearlier this year that the short session in 2017 won't yield enough time to tackle “broad-based social issues."

Meanwhile, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin dismissed the need for legislation directing bathroom usage by public high school students, calling it "silly."

“The last thing we need is more government rules,” Bevin said during a year-end review news conference in Louisville.

Bills focused on bathroom usage have passed the state's Republican controlled Senate in recent years, but they haven't gained much support in the House, which up until November was controlled by Democrats.

Republican Sen. Al Robertson, from London, has proposed and co-sponsored transgender bathroom bills in recent legislative sessions and he plans to propose the legislation again in the upcoming 2017 General Assembly.

Similar legislation sparked sharp backlash in North Carolina, led to the loss of some major sporting events and has been called a threat to the state's economic vitality.

Robinson said people shouldn't be "backing down for the sake of the threats and the financial threats."

"To me there’s some price that’s just not worth paying," he said in November.

Fischer, in Louisville, rebuked and said legislators should "learn from what the negative consequences were in North Carolina."

"And the response I get back from them is reassuring," he said. "I'm gratified in what I'm hearing, so far."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.