Rep. Darren Jackson sought unsuccessfully Thursday to add a provision to the House budget that would repeal House Bill 2 and spend $2 million on marketing to improve the state’s reputation in the wake of the law.
The budget amendment from Jackson, a Knightdale Democrat, didn’t go far. House Speaker Tim Moore quickly ruled the amendment out of order, which meant that it didn’t get a debate or a vote.
A spokesman for Moore cited a House rule that requires all proposed amendments to be “germane to the measure under consideration.” Moore said after the final 103-12 budget approval vote that HB2 didn’t relate to the spending plan.
“Those kinds of amendments need to be vetted in other committees,” he told reporters. “The one about HB2 just isn’t relevant to the bill at all. If you open it up to allow any amendment on anything, that would completely circumvent the legislative process.”
Jackson’s amendment would repeal the LGBT law in its entirety and take $2 million from a water and sewer infrastructure grant program. That money would have gone to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina to “develop and implement an advertising campaign to rehabilitate the business image of the state and deliver the message that North Carolina is still a great place to do business. The advertising campaign shall focus on businesses and industries that have ceased or limited their operations or plans for expansion in this State as a result of the passage of (House Bill 2).”
HB2 has generated international headlines and opposition from hundreds of companies. PayPal dropped plans to expand in Charlotte with hundreds of jobs as a result of the law.
Jackson called HB2 “the elephant in the room” as the House debated its budget. “It’s not the wooden elephant that stands on people’s desks,” he told Republicans, referring to their mascot, “but it’s the potential loss of federal funding. But I understand that is a debate for a different day and a different time.”
Jackson has tried multiple strategies to repeal HB2 during the current short session. He filed a bill that so far hasn’t gotten a committee hearing. And he’s seeking signatures on a “discharge petition” that would force a vote on his bill if he can get 61 House members to sign – a difficult task given that a number of Republican signatures would be needed to meet the requirement.