The Transylvania Times -

Fast Bills Make Bad Laws


“Haste makes waste.” North Carolina’s legislators should have heeded that adage when they passed controversial House Bill 2 last week.

Most of the discussion of House Bill 2 revolves around the reversal of the city of Charlotte’s ordinance regarding protections of transgendered people and the use of public accommodations. But House Bill 2 is much more far-reaching than that. It further restricts local governments from passing certain legislation that locally elected officials believe will be beneficial to their communities. In particular, it restricts local governments from requiring private businesses with which local governments contract to provide certain employee wages and benefits.

The legislators know House Bill 2 is questionable legislation at best: otherwise, they would not have rushed it through in 12 hours. The decision to hold the special session was announced last Monday. Legislators met Wednesday morning. After a short period of public comment, reporter Patrick Gannon tweeted that “After request, committee members (were) given 5 minutes to read 5-page bathroom bill.” By 9 p.m. less than 12 hours after the session began, the bill was signed into law.

Due to the incredibly short time in which this bill was introduced and signed into law by Gov. McCrory, there was simply no time for legislators to adequately discuss this far-reaching bill and it was physically impossible for them to receive any feedback from their constituents about the legislation.

Now the General Assembly is receiving some negative feedback from a variety of people. Representatives of PayPal, which plans to open anew center in Charlotte, were “disappointed” in the bill’s passage.

The CEO of Red Hat, a software company in Raleigh, called it “a clear step backwards.”

According to the Charlotte Observer, American Airlines, Wells Fargo, Apple, Microsoft and other major companies have said, “This proposed legislation is bad for business.”

In trying to defend House Bill 2, McCrory and others have offered weak and partial explanations. The primary reason proponents have given for passing House Bill 2 is that it would protect “women and children” from men dressing as women and accosting them in public bathrooms. We know of no evidence presented by any member of the General Assembly that allowing transgendered people, who comprise an incredibly minute portion of our society, to use the bathroom of their choice as having been a problem. (There is ample documentation, however, that other groups have a tendency and easier time preying on children and that often transgendered people are the prey, not the predators.)

In fact, popular sports venues such as Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) and Charlotte Motor Speedway have allowed transgender individuals to use the restroom of their gender identity for years without incident. And in his post-passage defense of the bill, McCrory said “if a privately-owned sporting facility wants (to) allow attendees of sporting events to use the restroom of their choice, or install unisex bathrooms, they can.”

But if transgendered people are a danger to women and children, why allow individual businesses to decide if the former can choose the bathroom they wish to use? If the real goal is to protect women and children, then the restrictions should apply to all businesses.

Proponents of the legislation also fail to address the part of the bill that could have the most far-reaching economic impact for state residents, denying local governments from setting wage and benefit standards when they contract with businesses. And when legislators do offer explanations, they are often nonsense.

Rep. Paul Stam said, “One county should not be able to tell another county how to set wages.”

This statement is patently false. No county has ever been able to tell another what wages to set.

But when the legislature rushes through such ill-conceived legislation with little or no discussion and no chance for residents of the state to comment, unreasonable and false explanations are to be expected when reasonable people ask reasonable questions.


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