The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce staked out its opposition last week to Prop 1, the bathroom bill initiative on the April 3 ballot.
Prop 1 would regulate who can use public bathrooms and other spaces, like locker rooms, based on a person’s biological sex at birth. It comes after a flurry of other bathroom bills that play off anti-transgender politics. North Carolina headlined the effort to disastrous consequences that Forbes estimated cost the state some $630 million in missed economic activity.
The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, as are most chambers of commerce, tends to lean conservative politically to support pro-business and pro-industry policies, but according to a statement released on Feb. 5 and signed by Chamber President Bruce Bustamante, Prop 1 is not pro-business.
“The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce believes that passing Proposition 1 would be detrimental to business in the city,” the statement said. “Many conferences and potential new business would be lost due to this discriminatory legislation which would convey the message that Anchorage is not a welcoming city. At a time when all businesses are working to stay competitive and keep workers employed, we simply can’t afford such a discriminatory initiative.”
Kati Ward, the head of the campaign against Prop 1, echoed the group’s concerns.
“While they may have a more conservative reputation, I think that at the end of the day it relates back to the economy,” Ward told Alaska Public Media reporter Casey Grove. “And we know that this ballot proposition, like it has done in the Lower 48, isn’t good for communities, for various reasons.”
Leading candidates for mayor, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and GOP-backed Rebecca Logan, also both oppose the measure.
The election is April 3 and it will be the municipality’s first vote-by-mail election.