Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina (system), speaks a painful truth that may antagonize some Republican lawmakers: HB2 is causing serious problems for public universities in several ways, including trying to recruit top teaching and administrative talent. But the former U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush is a position to know and know well the consequences of bad law.
The law, which has been catastrophic in terms of lost jobs and entertainment events and academic and professional conferences, was of course the GOP-led legislature’s overreaction to a Charlotte City Council ordinance offering anti-discrimination protections to transgender people. Sensing an opportunity to make political hay, Republicans overrode the ordinance and the proceeded to prohibit local governments from enacting similar anti-discrimination measures.
Financial disaster and national embarrassment followed. Republican leaders called a special session they said to repeal HB2, but they didn’t get it done after a fuss with Gov. Roy Cooper, who favors repeal.
Now, Spellings says talented people aren’t come to UNC campuses: “I know people have withdrawn their candidacy (for jobs),” she said. “But how many? To what effect? Were they not coming anyway? We’ll never know.”
What we do know is that HB2 was a huge mistake. GOP leaders ought to make its repeal a prime order of business when their session gets rolling.