Under the Dome

HB2 likely salvages funding for Human Relations Commission

One of the provisions in House Bill 2 states that the N.C. Human Relations Commission will investigate complaints of discrimination in public accommodations. After almost eliminating it last year, lawmakers are giving it more weight now that anti-discrimination is all the talk.

When the bill was passed last month, Democrats in the General Assembly pointed out that the legislature had just eliminating recurring funding for the commission. Instead, the budget provided $545,407 for the commission for one year, and left future appropriations undecided. Republicans responded it would be possible to maintain the funding.

Things have changed now that HB2 has forced Republican supporters to defend their intent that the law was not meant to be discriminatory. On Monday, the first day of the legislature’s short session, a joint oversight committee approved a recommendation that the commission’s funding continue at the current level.

When asked by a committee member if funding should be increased because of HB2, Rep. George Cleveland, a Republican from Jacksonville and co-chairman of the committee, said that was being worked out in the budgeting process.

The commission advocates for housing, fair employment, public accommodations, education, justice and governmental services, according to its website. It grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Its 20 commissioners

Last year a bill was introduced in the Senate proposing to eliminate the commission by July of this year. The state House and Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, along with advocacy groups, successfully saved the commission in the current budget.