• Steve Morgan

Just when there's finally a reason to visit Indiana (more on that in a second), Mayor Charlie Hales is telling city employees they mayn't visit the Hoosier State on the public dime.

Hales announced today he's using his perch atop the city's Office of Management and Finance to temporarily forbid city-funded travel there. It's a reaction to Indiana's recently passed "religious freedom restoration act"— signed into law in a political climate, and with worrying provisions, that have led many people to surmise it would allow businesses to refuse to serve gay customers. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence obstinately denies this (sprinkling those denials with falsehoods), but legislators are hustling to clarify the law just the same.

“Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature have to understand that such blatant discrimination against their own citizens cannot stand," Hales said in a statement. "We, as a country, have moved so far from those shameful practices of the past.”

This travel ban isn't a Hales original. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has enacted the same policy. So has Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

It's also unclear whether the ban will have any tangible effect. The mayor's office is trying to find out whether there are any outstanding trips to Indiana that will have to be scuttled. Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, says the mayor would refuse to attend the 2016 United States Conference of Mayors annual shindig, slated to take place in Indianapolis, if the law is still in effect. "But the conference would likely move anyway," Haynes notes.

Hales plans to put a resolution before City Council on Wednesday enshrining the city's disapproval of the Indiana law.

"The sunset is the repeal of Indiana’s policy, or implementation of specific wording to protect all residents from discrimination," Haynes says.

As to that one reason to travel to Indiana? The heroic and scrappy Michigan State University Men's Basketball Team is in the Final Four, and it's the best thing that's ever happened. But it's in Indianapolis.