The following editorial appeared in the Fayetteville Observer:
The points have been made. The cases stated. The wars declared. And as we stand back and assess the carnage from House Bill 2 – and the Charlotte city ordinance that provoked it – we can safely declare that there is no winner. Everyone is losing. And nobody’s losses are small.
The only people who stand to gain from HB2 are arch-conservative state legislators who hail from arch-conservative districts. For them, HB2 is red meat for the voters, guaranteeing re-election. And, yes, we do believe some of our lawmakers are that cynically manipulative.
But how much damage do we need to endure before we seek compromise? When do we call a truce and negotiate a settlement that will save face and allow lawmakers to step away from their entrenched positions? Do we really want to lock ourselves into a permanent state of unbending hatred?
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Tourism officials on the North Carolina coast are bracing for the coming summer season, fearing losses of revenue because out-of-state visitors are changing their vacation plans in reaction to HB2. In Asheville, resort managers say they’ve already lost about $2 million from canceled conferences.
That’s a pittance compared with what’s happening in Mecklenburg County. According to a new report from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, the county has lost more than $285 million in the fallout from HB2. That includes about 1,300 jobs lost, $3.7 million in lost sales and property-tax collections for the county, $202.7 million in lost wages and benefits, and $7.1 million gone in income and sales tax revenue for the state. The chamber also says economic-development inquiries are down 58 percent since HB2 was passed in March, and client visits are down 69 percent from last year.
Over time, it will get worse, as high-tech, financial and “knowledge” industries become a bigger slice of the national economy and their leaders choose locations that aren’t in North Carolina. That gurgling sound is Gov. Pat McCrory’s “Carolina Comeback” doing down the drain.
Some Republican lawmakers have been talking with Charlotte City Council members about a move that would let the General Assembly pull the plug on HB2. But the council on Monday rejected repeal of its controversial transgender-rights ordinance.
It’s all posturing, since the state has overruled the Charlotte law and federal courts almost inevitably will overrule HB2. The posturing is costing us millions of dollars every week. How many bullet holes do we need to put in our own feet before we stop shooting?
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