Last Thursday, HB 2 turned one—and the NCAA marked the occasion by threatening that if the General Assembly didn't repeal it by April 18, it would pull championships from North Carolina through 2022. As further inducement to act, on Monday, the Associated Press reported that over the next dozen years, the discriminatory law would cost the state at least $3.76 billion, probably more, from companies boycotting the state.
So last week, Republicans began discussing their latest repeal-and-replace option, though it hasn't been filed as of press time. Here's what you need to know about the new proposal.
The State's Bathrooms Aren't Becoming Trans-Friendly
Specifically, no local government or state agency is allowed to regulate the use of restroom and changing facilities. And while the proposal would technically repeal HB 2, House Speaker Tim Moore has also pledged that he won't be "backing off of the privacy issues"—i.e., the imaginary threat of men pretending to be women to assault girls in the restroom—that prompted HB 2 in the first place.
The "Rights of Conscience" Clause Is Another Way to Legalize Discrimination
Basically, it works like this: if you think a nondiscrimination ordinance or other government action burdens your "natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates" of your conscience, you can sue the state or one of its political subdivisions. According to the ACLU, this could be a "license to discriminate"—and it's hard to see how they're wrong.
Local Governments Will Apparently Be Able to Enact Living Wage Ordinances
Among other things it did, HB 2 prohibited local governments from enacting living wage ordinances or raising the minimum wage beyond the state level (which is also the federal minimum, $7.25 an hour). HB 2 also prohibited counties and municipalities from regulating contractors' employment practices. Since the replacement bill seems to be silent on this point, if HB 2 is repealed, these restrictions would be gone.
Local Governments Can Pass Nondiscrimination Ordinances— Sort Of
These ordinances could prohibit discrimination in employment and public accommodations for protected classes covered by federal law. Which is to say: a) not gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people, as they're not covered under federal law; and b) these discrimination claims can already be brought before a federal court, though things are quicker and cheaper in state court.
If Any of This Is Declared Unconstitutional, HB 2 Comes BacK
The proposal contains what's known as a severability clause, which means that if a court strikes down any piece of it, the whole thing goes—including the part repealing HB 2. That's quite plainly meant to deter activist groups from suing, despite the low-hanging legal fruit that is the conscience clause.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+HB 2."