Editorial: Failure to repeal HB2 sets NC back even more
Posted December 22, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016; Editorial# 8100
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
It may end up being the least productive nine-and-a-half hours in the history of the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislature failed to uphold a deal it demanded in the first place.
Instead of moving to clean up North Carolina’s brand, the session further tarnished its image with displays of dishonesty, petty partisanship and down-right meanness. The animosity at the close of the session Wednesday between the GOP legislative leaders and Roy Cooper, the incoming Democratic governor, will unfortunately not abate. North Carolina is worse off for it.
The Republican-dominated legislature failed to keep its end of a simple bargain Cooper helped broker: if the city of Charlotte repealed its non-discrimination ordinance, the legislature would repeal House Bill 2.
Charlotte’s City Council did its part but the legislature failed miserably to hold up its end of the bargain.
Since March, Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Protem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have sought to blame the blowback from HB2 on Democrats in Charlotte.
Finally, when they got what they wanted from the city, these powerful Republicans and the legislature they control couldn’t get their act together. The utter insincerity of their accusations was revealed. They failed to keep the deal they demanded.
The bill that was offered Wednesday in the Senate was a devil’s bargain. On the one hand it would have repealed HB2, but on the other hand legislators would have continued to impose on cities and counties most of the provisions in the law.
“This was not the deal. The deal was Charlotte repeals fully and we repeal fully,” said Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg.
Sen. Buck Newton, a Nash County Republican who lost the race for attorney general where HB2 was a key issue, lashed out. He referred to opponents of HB2 as the “lunatic left” and “hateful.”
While Berger and Moore now will seek to deflect criticism and obscure the issues, the reality is that Cooper was able to deliver – as he promised – and they were not. And when Berger and Moore failed to deliver they shucked-and-jived. Berger set up a deceitful procedural vote he knew would not pass – in the business world it’s called a “poison pill.”
In the end, a deal that even McCrory said was cut, was left in tatters. So was the North Carolina brand. Failure to repeal HB2 leaves our state less competitive. The jobs are still lost. The potential new ones will go elsewhere. The possibility of the NBA All-Star weekend returning, is gone. NCAA and ACC championships, forget them. Hundreds of millions of investment, tourism and entertainment dollars that would have been spent in communities throughout the state, will find their way to cities and towns in other states.
House Bill 2 transformed North Carolina’s image from a state of openness, inclusion and progress, to a stagnant place where discrimination and intolerance aren’t just tolerated, but enshrined in law.
Wednesday was a missed opportunity to start to close some of the gaps that divide our state – urban vs. rural, gender identity, sexual orientation. Instead, suspicion and distrust carried the day. The legislature could have re-set the clock on those divisions, but instead – lawmakers dug the hole of mistrust and ill will ever deeper.
This may be the season of warm spirit and goodwill, but inside the North Carolina Legislative Building it was the bitter cold of political brinksmanship.
At the close of the legislative session, expressions of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year unfortunately took on a forced and hollow ring.