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Committee ‘Almost Came To Blows’ As Ridesharing Bill Stalls Over Anti-Gay Amendment

West Virginia’s House of Delegates tabled a bill to allow ridesharing in the state following contentious debate over an alleged effort to allow drivers to discriminate against gays.

According to the Charleston Gazette “the bill’s fate was sealed” after Republican Delegate Tom Fast “attempted to amend a passenger nondiscrimination policy for taxi and ride-share services in order to make it legal to refuse passengers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Although the amendment fell far short of passage, the Gazette reports that, “delegates almost came to blows in committee … and House leadership had the bill postponed indefinitely to avoid an ugly floor fight on the issue.” (RELATED: Mormons Help Red State Ban Discrimination Against Gays)

Insurance Journal reports that the bill, which passed “almost unanimously” in the Republican-controlled Senate, would have allowed the operation of ridesharing services in the state while making slight reforms to taxi regulations.

“Some Democrats say a nondiscrimination clause for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people doomed the bill in the House,” the article notes, but Republican leaders contend it was simply a matter of prioritizing the most important legislation in the waning hours of the Assembly’s current session. (RELATED: Most Gay Marriage Religious Exemptions are not Discriminatory)

Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead told The Associated Press there are higher priorities in the last days of session, and that discussion about the nondiscrimination protections would have taken up time on the floor.

According to Armstead, insurance, DMV, and other regulatory concerns were also competing for lawmakers’ attention at the time, and allowing floor debate on the unwinnable amendment would have wasted time.

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