Feb 12, 2020 2:00 PM

High court asked to repeal Calif. travel ban; impacts Kansas, 10 other states

Posted Feb 12, 2020 2:00 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas attorney general has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California law prohibiting state employees from using taxpayer-funded business trips to expos or conferences in Texas.

Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the high court to reverse the ban on Monday. The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over civil disputes between states.

California adopted the ban following a 2017 Texas law that allows foster care and adoption agencies to deny services for religious beliefs. Supporters say the law does not discriminate because it requires the agencies to make referrals to other organizations.

But opponents argue the law gives child-placement offices legal authority to discriminate against the LGBT community and others.

Paxton called California’s ban “economic warfare” and an attempt “to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers.”

“The law California opposes does not prevent anyone from contributing to child welfare,” Paxton said. “Boycotting states based on nothing more than political disagreement breaks down the ability of states to serve as laboratories of democracy while still working together as one nation — the very thing our Constitution intended to prevent.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his state has “chosen not to use taxpayer money to support laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community.”

The ban by California affects 11 states, including Kansas, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky and South Carolina.

“Discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” Becerra said in 2017. “That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

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Feb 12, 2020 2:00 PM
Ex-Kan. prison lab instructor wants sex crime conviction thrown out
Tomas Co photo Texas County

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor who was found guilty earlier this month of one count of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate is asking a judge to throw out the conviction.

Tomas Co was convicted on one charge and found not guilty of five other charges alleging he abused female inmates working in the dental lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The conviction was for a woman who said Co touched the inside of her knee and thigh.

In a motion filed Friday, Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, argued that type of touching doesn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also asks Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios to acquit Co based on insufficient evidence, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Joseph said he also plans to seek probation for Co, rather than the 31 to 136 months of prison time he is facing.

District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office would file arguments in response to the defense motion.

Inmates in the dental lab complained for five years about alleged sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Co, who was dismissed in December 2018.