Talk about painful irony. As the fallout thickened from the NCAA decision to pull from North Carolina all seven championship events scheduled in the state in the 2016-17 academic year, Gov. Pat McCrory was in Washington touting North Carolina’s economy as part of the North Carolina Business and Economic Development Summit. Legislators have gone to this meeting for 20 years, with the state using it as a chance to promote itself and boost its chances for new jobs.
The NCAA joined an ever-expanding line of individuals and organizations – and states, for that matter – that have repudiated North Carolina following the General Assembly’s passage of the disastrous House Bill 2. The law prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and forces them to use the one matching the sex listed on their birth certificates. HB2 also prohibits local governments from passing measures to prevent discrimination against members of the LGBT community. And, to boot, those local governments can’t raise the minimum wage in their jurisdictions.
The casualty count from HB2 is mounting. The tally by reliable estimates has employment losses in the thousands and financial damage in the millions.
The tab from the NCAA’s decision is big. Poor Greensboro is losing men’s Division I basketball tournament games, and Cary is losing championship events in women’ soccer, tennis and lacrosse. Estimates are there might have been 5,000 hotel room rentals in the mix. And now, the Atlantic Coast Conference is considering its own position when it comes to championship events, which are staying in place for the 2016-17 academic year but, after that, who knows? Commissioner John Swofford stated his personal opposition to HB2, and he’s certainly going to look at the NCAA’s decision for future reference.
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Will Republicans stop the bleeding and do the only sensible thing here, which is to repeal HB2 in its entirety? No. The spokesperson for the N.C. Republican Party dismissed the NCAA decision, saying, “This is so absurd it’s almost comical.”
Really? One wonders how many of the hotel owners, merchants, store owners and service personnel who might have made big money from these NCAA events or from the NBA game are laughing.
GOP legislative leaders, Senate President pro tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, seem to be dug in when it comes to HB2. As long as they maintain that foolish position, the damage is going to continue.