BOISE — A consortium of technology companies has become the latest big employer to come out against a bill to bar transgender girls and women from playing on girls' and women's high school and college sports team.

Samantha Kersul, Washington and the Northwest executive director for TechNet, wrote Gov. Brad Little and Senate State Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, on Friday to express her opposition. This comes on the heels of a letter from Chobani, Clif Bar, HP and Micron opposing both the transgender athletics bill and another that would bar transgender people from changing their birth certificates. Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters expressed similar concerns earlier this week, although he didn't cite any bills specifically.

The athletics bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, has already passed the House. The Senate State Affairs Committee held the first day of a hearing on it Friday and plans to continue Monday.

TechNet's letter is below:

On behalf of TechNet’s over eighty technology companies, I am writing today in strong opposition to HB 500. Our member companies strongly believe this legislation an economic liability for the state of Idaho.

Idaho is the nation’s fastest growing state, and the technology industry is helping to fuel that growth. The Idaho Department of Commerce reports the technology industry employs more than 20,300 Idahoans and a projected 20% ten-year growth rate. Code.Org reports that today there are more than 1,830 open computing jobs in the state. For the state to continue its rapid economic growth, it will need to attract and retain high quality talent to develop innovative new technology solutions.

The technology sector has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to our core values that all individuals have the same opportunities to live, work, and contribute to their communities like everyone else. In our experience, legislation like HB 500 negatively impacts our ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees, and discourages local investment. We recognize the work Idaho

has done to help the technology sector grow and be competitive, and we caution legislators from doing anything that would make it more challenging to compete for the talented and highly educated workers many of our companies are looking to hire.

We have seen examples of decreased investment happen in response to legislation like HB 500 all over the country. In 2017, the state of Texas introduced a bill prohibiting transgender individuals from using the bathroom which matches their identity. The bill failed to pass but the state lost an estimated $66 million in tourism cancellations.

Our member companies are proud to continue our work with lawmakers to ensure Idaho is a vibrant, competitive, and welcoming place for our customers, employees and their families.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.

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