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Despite economic losses, NC Chamber stays mum on HB2

Posted April 29
Updated May 4

— As the number of canceled concerts, conventions and business expansions related to a controversial state law continues to mount, North Carolina's largest business organization remains strangely silent about the law.

House Bill 2, which was approved during a one-day emergency legislative session last month, has generated nationwide debate because it excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections and prohibits cities and counties from extending such protections. It also requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their birth gender.

Since its passage, PayPal and Deutsche Bank have called off planned expansions in North Carolina, costing the state close to 700 jobs. Other businesses have told economic developers that North Carolina is no longer being considered for their new offices or plants, and several trade associations have moved conventions outside the state, either because of opposition to House Bill 2 or because so many locales have blocked non-essential travel to the state that logistics for the conventions became unwieldy. Performers from Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam to Cirque du Soleil have also canceled appearances in the state to protest the law.

House Bill 2 At a glance: Economic impacts of HB2

Local chambers of commerce across the state, including the organizations in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, have come out against House Bill 2, saying it doesn't represent their values.

The North Carolina Chamber, meanwhile, has said only that it has been "conducting an analysis" of House Bill 2 and has declined to take a position on it.

WRAL News also tried to contact the five elected officers to the group's board to ask about their personal positions on the law. BB&T President Ricky Brown was the only one who responded, and he likewise didn't take a position on it.

"I support the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s continuing efforts to fully understand and navigate the HB2 issue to ensure our state is a great place to do business," Brown said in an email through BB&T's corporate communications office.

Left-leaning government watchdog group Democracy North Carolina has launched a petition drive to encourage the N.C. Chamber to speak out on the law.

"I think they cut a deal," Bob Hall, the group's executive director, said of the N.C. Chamber.

State chambers of commerce in Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have all come out against similar anti-LGBT legislation, but unlike proposals in other states, House Bill 2 includes provisions that make it much harder for workers to sue for job discrimination and that bans local governments from requiring contractors to pay a certain wage. Both are key priorities for the N.C. Chamber, Hall said.

"These are the kind of things they like. They want to get rid of liability," Hall said, noting that the N.C. Chamber is a powerful lobby and political donor with close ties to Republican legislative leaders.

"They want things, and they have snuck things in or they’ve done things," he added. "People don’t see their fingerprints often, but they’re inside the deals."

Chamber officials declined to comment when asked whether they played any part in writing the new law.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said he didn't speak personally with anyone from the N.C. Chamber when House Bill 2 was being drafted. But he said he didn't know if any other sponsors of the bill did.

"You’ll have to talk to the other folks that were involved in writing the bill. I don’t think that was the case, but I was not in the room all the time," Berger said.

Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, said he didn't talk to anyone from the N.C. Chamber before House Bill 2 was passed, either. He also disputed the argument that the law makes it more difficult for people to sue over job discrimination.

"I don’t recall there being any discussion about trying to cut off any existing claims that somebody could bring," Newton said. "There’s also arguments that it doesn’t cut off claims, so I don’t think that’s clear yet."

Supporters of the law maintain it is needed to maintain privacy and safety in women's bathrooms and locker rooms, but Hall says that stance is just a distraction.

"It's a smokescreen for a lot of big damage, and the Chamber's the one that's going to benefit," he said. "Come out of the shadows. Come out of the closet, if you will, and take responsibility for it."

15 Comments

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  • Melvin Denis May 1, 2016
    user avatar

    HB 2 Stupid law by stupid people. You can't fix stupid but you can vote them out.

  • Glenn Fowler May 1, 2016
    user avatar

    The evidence clearly shows christians are a greater thteat to children than transgendered people. Pass a law to keep them out of the rest room......duh!!!!

  • Xander Bogaerts May 1, 2016
    user avatar

    I couldn't believe the NCGOP has no intention of allowing the proposal to repeal HB2 to come to a vote.
    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article74440742.html

    The pride of the NCGOP is such that they continue to support the fantasy of a pervert using ordinances as cover in bathrooms instead of admitting a mistake and righting it, then making sure the economic health of NC recovers from the fallout caused by HB2. Pride is the mother of arrogance and will be their downfall if they don't act as swiftly in repealing it as they did in passing it.

  • Xander Bogaerts May 1, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    The next time a city proposes an ordinance to allow tg/tv to use restroom of gender they identify with, go to that city council meeting and make yourself heard with suggestions on how to make it better. Identifying a problem is way easier than coming up with a solution, so make sure you help out and suggest a solution to cover your concern. Too late to fix Charlotte's ordinance- HB2 trumped it. The Charlotte ordinance for TG/TV to use restroom of the gender they identify with is no longer in effect because of HB2.

    The Seattle guy was a protester, not a predator/pervert:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/wa-man-women-bathroom-test-transgender-ruling-article-1.2535150

    HB2 needs to be repealed in its entirety. The negative economic impact to NC will only continue to grow.

  • Melvin Denis Apr 30, 2016
    user avatar

    Use your restrooms at home.

  • John Townsend Apr 30, 2016
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    View quoted thread



    Under Charlotte rules, a man can go into a woman's locker room and not risk arrest at all since the law did not define what it took to identify as a woman. This happened recently in Seattle when a man did it twice and wasn't arrested. Creepy men could go to the public pool, walk into a woman's locker room after the girls swim team finishes practice and undress and behave as if he belonged there since in the eyes of the law, he would be considered a woman if he said he identified as one.

  • Marty Martin Apr 30, 2016
    user avatar

    Mark - Breitbart deceived you by publishing an article claiming in April 2016 a man was arrested for dressing like a woman and filming women inside a public restroom - and fused it with the bathroom bills against Transgenders.
    But the incident was from April 2013 and the man was NOT a Transgender.

  • Marty Martin Apr 30, 2016
    user avatar

    Shelly -- exactly! I also read the articles.
    The men caught in ladies' restrooms are NOT transgenders, but are perverts.
    There is a BIG difference in needing to use a restroom and filming inside them.
    Hopefully NC doesn't go bust before Republicans understand the difference.

  • Marty Martin Apr 30, 2016
    user avatar

    Shelly -- exactly! I also read the articles.
    The men caught in ladies' restrooms are NOT transgenders, but are perverts.
    There is a BIG difference in needing to use a restroom and filming inside them.
    Hopefully NC doesn't go bust before Republicans understand the difference.

  • Shelly McChesney Apr 30, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    Ok Mark, I looked it up. I found men (not transgender) who broke laws that existed way before HB2. Laws that are still there and still make it illegal for a man (again, not transgender) to be in a womens' restroom. Now you google Laverne Cox, Carmen Cerrera, Jenna Talackova, Thomas Beatie, Chaz Bono, Janet Mock, Candis Cayne, Balian Buschbaum, I could go on and on, look at their pictures (because that's all you can go by in a public bathroom unless we're going to have "private checkers") and figure out which bathroom they should use. Also think about how uncomfortable you would be and how you would explain to a child why there is a woman in the men's room or vise versa. This bill isn't about protecting women and children. The law already did that. HB2 is outright discrimination against a group of law abiding, tax paying citizens. It's wrong in all it's parts and will continue to cost this state in ways large and small.

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