News (USA)

Business leaders oppose Missouri religious objections bill

Sen. Bob Onder, who sponsored the bill, did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment about the business pushback on Friday. But earlier this week, the Republican from Lake St. Louis disputed claims that the measure could hurt business, saying the “religious liberties” of small businesses should be considered.

Nixon said Missouri faces tough competition in the business world. He said the resolution could drive away business and workers, as well as cause conventions and sporting events — such as the NCAA basketball regional currently underway in St. Louis — to go elsewhere. A religious objections law that passed last year in Indiana provoked uproar among business leaders and threats of boycotts.

“The bottom line is that this is not good for the economy of the state,” he said.

A House committee will consider the measure after lawmakers return from a weeklong break, Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson said earlier this week. No decisions have been made regarding possible amendments, Richardson said.

Kitty Radcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, said Friday that the uproar in Indiana over a similar measure damaged that state’s reputation.

She said the measure “is a negative impact we cannot afford to have,” as the city continues to restore its image following the protests and investigations in Ferguson sparked last year by the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old resident of the St. Louis suburb.

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