Opportunity has knocked lately for the states of North and South Carolina. Republicans in North Carolina slammed the door in the faces of those delivering the opportunity with HB2.
But in South Carolina, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who previously handled a Confederate flag controversy with distinction, has opened the door and without saying it, is welcoming new investment in her state with the implied reassurance that South Carolina isn’t North Carolina, and that’s good.
Haley — joined by overwhelming power in the business community and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce — says the state doesn’t need a proposed law to limit the bathrooms that transgender people can use. North Carolina Republicans passed such a law, HB2, and opened the way for all sorts of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity by saying localities couldn’t pass anti-discrimination laws. Since then, hundreds of business leaders have voiced opposition to the law, and PayPal canceled plans for an operations center in Charlotte.
Chances are, the company will go to South Carolina, where it will not face the right-wing and likely unconstitutional sentiments of HB2. Haley, a conservative Republican, spoke common sense, saying the state doesn’t need the law because there’s not a problem to fix. And she added, “South Carolina is doing really well when it comes to respect and when it comes to kindness and when it comes to acceptance.” And the S.C. Chamber is going after a legislator who’s sponsoring another HB2, saying the state ought to be improving roads and the skills of workers, not messing with a crisis that doesn’t exist.
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Alas, the North Carolina Chamber, long the conservative voice of business, has stayed silent on HB2, which is an embarrassment.
Not silent, unfortunately, is the state Republican Party.
One GOP official criticized PayPal and its Cuba connection and said, “Hasta la buh-bye.” Clever. Doubtless that will encourage PayPal and other companies to come to North Carolina. Likely not.
Other states, notably Georgia and South Dakota, have governors, Republicans, who declined to go along with HB2-type silliness and issued vetoes. Criticism from the business community appears as well to have discouraged such bills in other states. North Carolina has an ally, however, in Mississippi. That’s little comfort.