Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce Endorses Add the Words, Uber

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IMAGE BY KELSEY HAWES
  • image by Kelsey Hawes
At 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, the House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony regarding HB 002—better known as the "Add the Words" bill, which would add "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" protections to the Gem State's 1960s-era human rights law. 

Members of the committee will hear from many supporters of the bill, including members of the public, members of the Boise City Council, former Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson, faith leaders and civil rights advocates from across the state. Add to the list one more important supporter: the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

BMCC issued a press release on Jan. 24 reiterating its support of the nondiscrimination ordinance, quoting BMCC President and CEO Bill Connors, who described discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation as "bad for business" because it projects a negative image of Idaho.

"If you look in terms of the message we want to send to the rest of the world, it just makes sense for us as a business organization," Connors told Boise Weekly.

The statement is significant because nondiscrimination ordinances—municipal ordinances that are the citywide analogues to HB 002—have been criticized as infringing on the rights of business owners, like in the case with the north Idaho wedding chapel The Hitching Post, which has refused to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies on religious grounds.

Connors said that though individual business owners' concerns with nondiscrimination ordinances and HB 002 should be taken on a "case-by-case basis," "the concept of [addressing] discrimination in the workplace is something the Chamber certainly would support."

The press release also indicated BMCC's support of rideshare service Uber, stating that the Chamber sent a letter to City Hall requesting that the City Council "find a solution which would allow Uber to operate in Boise."

The city of Boise and Uber had agreed that Uber would provide its service for free during negotiations toward a long-term arrangement under which Uber could charge its customers. Negotiations broke down in December 2014, when Uber began charging customers. On Dec. 31, the city sent Uber a cease and desist letter

Other issues the Chamber added to its 2015 legislative agenda include "local support for the Gowen STRONG coalition, the LIV Boise Early Childhood Education Initiative, and the St. Luke’s Master Plan; and statewide support for appropriations for technology investments, funding for Small Business Development Centers on college campuses and state university building appropriations."