The drama over HB2 is building. The oppressive bill passed to regulate bathroom use by transgender people but including poison pills prohibiting localities from protecting people with anti-discrimination laws is doing more damage to the state by the day.
Gov. Pat McCrory attempted to halt the damage with an executive order extending discrimination protections to all state employees, but he only reaffirmed the worst aspects of the law.
On the same day McCrory came forth with his order – which asks the legislature to look at the bill but has no practical effect – Deutsche Bank announced it was freezing plans to add 250 jobs in Cary, jobs that were expected to pay an average of $85,600 a year. Economic development officials said four groups have canceled events in Wake County citing HB2, costing the county over $700,000 in benefits. Universities say they’re losing conferences and prospects for their public-private research campuses, and the stigma of the law is making it harder to attract new faculty members. Independent businesses around the state have organized a protest.
McCrory’s order wasn’t much, and the governor, of course, has little clout with the powers-that-be in the legislature, Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden and House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain. They’ve shown no inclination to follow the governor’s lead on anything.
Now it seems the Republican schisms and blind zeal that let this law pass will also obstruct its necessary repeal. Until HB2 is repealed, jobs will continue to be lost.
“We’ve had some companies choose to suspend their site selection search in North Carolina and consequently in Wake County,” said Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development. “Some have said they’re taking North Carolina off the list, others have said they’re postponing things to see what happens.”
Unfortunately, Berger and Moore represent districts in less-populated areas of the state, and although their constituents might well benefit from economic development in cities (Moore’s Kings Mountain isn’t that far from Charlotte, and Berger’s Eden is fairly close to Greensboro), they have such antipathy for cities they just don’t care. They are putting an anti-urban ideology ahead of the best interests of North Carolina, a reprehensible position for two supposed leaders.
Despite the power of the legislature, McCrory might have had a significant role here if he’d had vetoed this foolishness. Yes, lawmakers would have overridden his veto, but he would at least have taken a bold step.
As it stands, he’s simply joining the chorus of Republicans in the General Assembly and watching jobs fall away while the state’s reputation suffers in ways that will do damage for a long time.