Port: It's time for California to end its childish state travel bans

Here in North Dakota, news of California's ban elicited a collective shrug.

A man waves an LGBT equality rainbow flag at a celebration rally in West Hollywood, California, United States, June 26, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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MINOT, N.D. — There's an old saying, deployed in many iterations and of apocryphal origins, which states that if you look around the room and can't figure out who the fool is, it's you.

It's time for Californians to admit they're fools.

Five years ago, in reaction to polarizing laws in other states, California's leaders began banning state-funded travel to those states. The trend has continued to the point of absurdity.

"Since then, California has banned state-funded travel to 18 states, with a total population of 117 million people," the Sacramento Bee reports .

The latest state added to the list is Ohio , which drew California's ire with a law allowing doctors to deny care based on their spiritual convictions .


California has now banned travel to 36% of the U.S. states representing over 35% of the U.S. population. It's not possible to drive from California to the country's east coast without traveling through at least one of these states.

This was done, I note with a deep sense of irony, in the name of tolerance.


California's ban breaks down along partisan lines. Among the states where state-funded travel is prohibited are 18 of the 25 states that voted for Donald Trump in 2020. The exceptions are Alaska , Indiana , Louisiana , Missouri , Nebraska , Utah , and Wyoming .

In our region, North Dakota was added to the naughty list in June , joining Montana and South Dakota .

No Biden-voting state is on the list.

Somehow, this blacklist manages to be both superficial and ludicrously exacting at the same time. It has many exceptions — for instance, the state's collegiate teams are allowed to travel to the no-no states — but still includes North Carolina despite that state having repealed, in 2017 , the transgender bathroom law that drew the Golden State's ire.

The laws prompting California's blacklist are controversial, to be sure, but whatever our view of them, isn't it fair to wonder what the point of all this is?


There is no meaningful economic impact for the states on the list. Here in North Dakota, news of California's ban elicited a collective shrug. Nor is there evidence that California's actions have had a meaningful impact on the political debates in other states.

Many of the politicians in the banned states accept the pique of California's left-wing leaders as a badge of honor; red-state voters see California's condemnation as an endorsement.

California's blacklist has no real-world impact on policy debates. It's just pandering to California's left-wing electorate's anger for right-wing politics in other parts of the country. Which makes the policy as puerile in its motivations as anything it aims to protest.

Our country is divided enough without laws that seek to impose a sort of political segregation on us. Disagreement ought to prompt us to talk and interact more, not less.

That's what grownups do.

It's time for California to stop being so childish.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .


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Rob Port

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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