Tag Archives: NC Chamber of Commerce

Stating the obvious on HB2 in NC

3 Apr

For those who missed it the NC General Assembly passed legislation at the end of March that overruled all other NC law in two main categories: First, no counties or municipalities can pass any form of statute that gives extra protections to specified groups and second, those same smaller governments cannot raise the minimum wage above the state level.
The law, HB2, has gotten a lot of flack because of its status as a “bathroom bill” due to its immediate effect being that transgender and transexual citizens have to legally use the bathroom that matches their biological (at birth) sex. This is regardless of whatever stage in transition the person who has too many coffees may be in. It has been described by proponents as a law that’s utility is found in protecting children and other other adults from sexual predation of any form. The law presents itself a solution without a problem because we already have laws in NC concerning indecency.
Proponents also say that this law expands uniform civil rights across the state. Gov. Pat McCrory has supported his signing in baffled tones illustrating examples that this increases liberty, nevertheless it disallows counties and municipalities from passing stricter laws.
The current list of NC protected classes leaves outs gays, lesbians, trans, queer, veterans, and seniors. If the City of Winston-Salem wanted to pass a statue that said veterans had a protected status in employment practices the state can overrule it. If the City of Durham wanted to pass an ordinance saying all restaurants must serve Muslims then only the state and federal laws would have any jurisdiction.
Why is that important? Because this opens the door for ultimately more discrimination statewide because the state law reduces the ability of citizens to have legal recourse locally and forces them to seek action where it is more difficult and expensive: state and federal court. It’s also contrary to the hallmark argument conservatives give about Federalism: It allows people at the local level the ability to make the decisions concerning those people.
Additionally HB2 attached the mercantile carrot to the quagmire stick: local governments cannot increase the minimum wage. So if Asheville or Wilmington wanted to pass legislation that raised minimum wage even the slightest amounts (on the heels of West Coast cities doing so) it’s not legal. Businesses have that added legal protection to insulate from even having to pick a position.. However, in the public relations nightmare this has created it’s cold comfort no insulating can help.
A wedge issue has stripped North Carolina of its dignity.