Democratic leaders in the General Assembly held a news conference Monday to urge the legislature to repeal HB2, while acknowledging that would be a difficult victory to achieve.
Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh said, opponents of the law rewriting anti-discrimination protections will put their faith in the justice system, as they have in other Republican-written laws that have ended up in court. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB2 was filed soon after it became law with Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature.
But Blue said there’s a chance to reverse the loss of jobs, revenue and reputation. He said he has seen estimates of up to $568 million private sector losses by 2018 through loss of jobs, tourist dollars, conventions and events. (Blue’s office later said that figure is a projection from a report by the Center for American Progress.
“I think this short session is the one opportunity in North Carolina to stem the reputational harm that will be long-lasting if it is not done — harm that will have a tail 20, 25 years long,” Blue said.
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Blue said the state’s diversion of taxes to sales and consumption leaves it even more vulnerable to economic boycotts and damage from loss of tourism dollars. He said it doesn’t prevent sex offenders from looking for victims in public restrooms.
“I’m assuming at some point the leadership in the General Assembly along with the governor, will decide this is the king of thing that concrete and decisive action has to be taken on, and has to be taken pretty immediately,” Blue said.
Ricky Diaz, spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory’s re-election campaign, responded by email:
“Isn't that rich coming from the ones who have joined forces with the very Washington, D.C.-based organization that's coordinating the campaign to smear the state and inflict damage on North Carolina? Will the Democrats ask the Human Rights Campaign to stop maligning and attacking our state?”
House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham echoed Blue’s remarks, adding that the furor over HB2 had “eviscerated” North Carolina’s brand.
“Where do we go to get our reputation back?” Hall said.
Hall said the entire bill needed to be repealed, not just parts of it.