State Politics

Burr says HB2 won’t deter companies from coming to NC

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr on Friday fended off questions about House Bill 2, though he said he doesn’t think it will deter more companies from moving to the state.

“It’s a state issue,” Burr told the Observer. “You need to talk to state legislators. I’ve still got companies talking to me about moving to North Carolina.”

Burr, a Republican, made his comments shortly before speaking at the ribbon cutting of the Veterans Administration’s new Charlotte health care center.

HB 2 was passed by Republican state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in response to an expanded Charlotte ordinance that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and allowed transgender persons to use the bathroom of their choice.

Among other things, the law pre-empts the Charlotte ordinance and others like it.

Democratic Senate candidate Deborah Ross criticized Burr’s stand in a fundraising email Friday.

“Not only did Republicans set North Carolina’s civil rights back decades, they chased away jobs,” alluding to PayPal’s decision not to bring 400 jobs to Charlotte. “And still Sen. Burr is continuing to insist that this law will not hurt our economy. It is clear that he has lost touch with the values and needs of North Carolinians during his 20-plus years in Washington.”

More than 130 executives from companies such as Bank of America, American Airlines, General Electric and IBM have signed a letter urging McCrory and GOP lawmakers to repeal the bill.

On Friday Burr declined to comment directly on the new law or its effect on the economy.

“I don’t think there’s anything we’ve done that will deter people from moving to North Carolina, because this is a great place,” he said.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat who supported the city ordinance, said there are “ongoing” conversations intended to resolve the conflict over the law. Asked if those conversations are with the governor or lawmakers, she said “both.”

“What people have to realize,” she said before the VA event, “is that this isn’t the city of Charlotte’s (to) compromise. This debate has gotten larger than our state.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

Gov. McCrory releases video statement on HB2