Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey may be out of business, but North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President pro tem Phil Berger are still doing their share of pratfalls and tricks from the Legislative Building. There’s no cost of admission, but the cost to North Carolina for their shenanigans is going to run in the billions of dollars in lost business and jobs and an ever-increasing loss of face for the Old North State.
The latest gambit from Republicans who claim they want to help the state out of the HB2 mess they created came Tuesday, when Moore and Berger called a press conference to say they’d agreed “in principle” with a proposed compromise on the infamous “bathroom bill” from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who defeated incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.
The problem was, Cooper says he didn’t say what Berger and Moore claimed he said, and then they seemed to back up and say, oh, well, the idea came from the governor’s lawyer, and sort of from some business people. Then there was that “in principle” part of it, which left open all sorts of fine-tuning from Republicans who will never admit they were wrong on HB2, a law which prohibited anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community and slapped down a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender individuals to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.
What Berger and Moore didn’t figure on was the reaction, nationwide. The estimated financial impact on the state, negative impact, now stands by one estimate at over $3.5 billion. The next blow will be a likely announcement that the NCAA will hold no championships in North Carolina through 2022.
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Berger and Moore’s “deal” isn’t a deal at all. They say they’ll repeal HB2, but local governments would be banned from setting bathroom access policies similar to those in the Charlotte ordinance, and there would be a provision that would allow lawsuits, and the awarding of fees if the suits were successful, by people who believe their constitutional rights are violated by government action. That would open the way for endless suits by people who objected to laws large and small and could cripple the courts and local governments. Local anti-discrimination laws would be strictly limited.
A “clean” repeal of HB2 is what’s needed, and likely is the only action that will restore some of what’s been lost in terms of sporting events, for one example. The NCAA is deciding within days about schedules of championship games through 2022.
What’s going on? Republicans are trying to make Cooper the villain, though he had nothing to do with HB2. They’d like to fool people into thinking they tried to fix the problem they created when in fact they haven’t. Moore and Berger, from Kings Mountain and Eden respectively, couldn’t care less about the monumental impact HB2 is having on cities. This effort is perfunctory, and of course their “in principle” caveat would open the way for more trickery, if Cooper happened to go along with them, which he will not.