North Carolina’s repeal of House Bill 2, or the “bathroom bill,” has left few people satisfied, and North Carolina’s economic future remains unclear.
House Bill 142 repeals HB2 in its entirety. But it leaves regulating access to public showers and bathrooms up to state legislators. It also prevents local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances until at least 2020.
The Senate and House passed the bill and it was signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who called it “not a perfect deal” and not his “preferred solution.”
“In a perfect world, with a good General Assembly, we would have repealed HB2 fully today, and added full statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians,” Cooper said.
Cooper has long been opposed to HB2. However, the measure to repeal the bill comes at a time when North Carolina’s economy faces adverse consequences as a result of HB2. An Associated Press analysis this week concluded that HB2 could cost the state at least $3.76 billion in lost revenue over the next dozen years.
And the AP’s report comes out just after the NCAA gave North Carolina an ultimatum, saying that if the law doesn’t change the state risks losing out on hosting future championship games. It was not immediately clear if the HB142 “compromise” would be sufficient enough to satisfy the NCAA. President Mark Emmert said a vote would take place by next week.
“Everybody loves being in North Carolina for our games. It’s a state obviously that in many ways is synonymous with college sport,” he said. “Nobody made the decision to leave North Carolina casually. It was a very, very difficult decision for the board to make. And I’m sure the next decision will be very difficult as well.”
According to AP’s estimates, North Carolina is on track to lose a total of $196 million through not only sporting events but also similar events such as concerts, conventions and others.
The economic implications were not lost on state lawmakers as well as activists.
After signing the repeal Gov. Cooper said, “House Bill 2 stopped a number of businesses from expanding here or coming here to North Carolina. Companies that I have talked to, companies that I have recruited, who were hesitant or refusing to bring businesses to our state before the passage of today’s bill now are telling me: We are coming.”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue called the economic implications “urgent enough” to support the bill even if it is not a perfect solution.
“It brings to an end an economic threat,” Blue said.
State Senate Leader Phil Berger and Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said in a joint statement, “Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy.”
“Nobody is 100 percent happy, but I will say I’m 95 percent happy,” said Moore.
Activists, meanwhile, saw the so-called compromise as selling out and hurting the LGBT community in the process.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called the lawmakers behind the bill “desperate” to “save the state’s economy.”
Any ally of the LGBTQ community cannot support this new version of #HB2. There will be political consequences for those who do, Dem and Rep.
Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 30, 2017
Griffin also said boycotts of the state should not end because the “compromise” still discriminates.
“Each and every lawmaker who supported this bill has betrayed the LGBTQ community,” Griffin said. “HRC will explore every legal action to combat this dangerous legislation, and we urge all businesses, sports leagues and entertainers who have fought against HB2 to continue standing strong with the LGBTQ community attacked by this hateful law.”
“HB2 was hastily passed without any input from the LGBTQ community just one year ago,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina. “Today, we returned to the legislature with a deal made between Governor Cooper, Phil Berger and Tim Moore that once again left out the ones most impacted by the discriminatory law – LGBTQ North Carolinians. Lawmakers and Governor Cooper have failed to resolve the problems with HB2 by doubling down on discrimination. Once again, the North Carolina General Assembly has enshrined discrimination into North Carolina law.”
“This so-called ‘deal’ is politics at its worst and was only made as the state faced losing key NCAA events and further economic damage,” said GLAAD. “What we witnessed was a last-minute idea thrown together with little thought of protecting transgender residents.”
Cooper’s predecessor, Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed HB2 amid major backlash, tweeted in favor of HB142.
Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) March 30, 2017
But Twitter users criticized the former governor.
Price Blissit (@Dpblissit) March 30, 2017
Georgia Liberal (@Georgia_Liberal) March 30, 2017
@PatMcCroryNC you lost NC $3.76B over 12 yrs bc of scare tactic w/ zero evidence, and were voted out as result. So, go back to job searching
Sam LaVergne (@samlavergne) March 30, 2017
The HB2 controversy has largely become more about its economic implications and less about LGBT protections because discrimination is bad for business as laid out by the AP’s report.
If businesses, entertainers, sports teams and other organizations agree with activists that HB142 does not satisfy protecting the LGBT community, North Carolina will lose quite a bit of revenue. In addition to the potential $196 million lost through sporting events, concerts and other events, the AP analysis also reported other estimated losses:
PayPal ($2.66 billion)
Deutsche Bank ($543 million)
CoStar ($250 million)
Voxpro ($52 million)
Adidas ($67 million)
The AP notes that its calculation “is likely an underestimation of the law’s true costs. The count includes only data obtained from businesses and state or local officials regarding projects that canceled or relocated because of HB2.” The estimate does not account for business that may have been lost in which the parties involved did not publicly announce that HB2 affected its decision.
Also not factored into its tally, AP notes, are projects for which the economic effect could not be determined. For instance, Lionsgate pulled out of producing a television series pilot in North Carolina almost immediately after the law was signed.The Charlotte Observerreported at the time that the studio said HB2 is “deplorable and discriminatory, and it runs counter to everything we stand for.” Lost revenue in this case, and others, was not included “because of a lack of data on their economic impact.”
Other states have even weighed in. In January California announced it will no longer fund trips for government officials to states that passed anti-LGBT legislation any time after June 26, 2015. This includes North Carolina.
“The law also requires the Attorney General to develop, maintain, and post on her Internet Web site a current list of states that are subject to the travel ban,” according to the bill’s text.
California was the first state to pass such legislature. AB 1887 was co-sponsored and co-authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, who is gay.