The Transylvania Times -

Local Elected Officials Comment On House Bill 2 - Brevard NC


Transylvania County commissioners, Brevard City Council members and Mayor Jimmy Harris were contacted last week and asked the following question: Would you like to share your position/thoughts/support/opposition to the recent passage of House Bill 2 (HB2), which, among other things, limits local governments from expanding local rules to ban discrimination against people and from prohibiting local governments from enacting a minimum wage?

The following responded:

•Commissioner Larry Chapman — "(I) recommend you check the N.C. Constitution as it explains what the state can do related to cities and counties. The state created cities and counties and, as evident, can do what it wants regardless of local officials support or non-support, You would better serve our citizens if you shared the specific details of the bill and exactly what it contains."

(Editor’s Note: The bill may be found at )

•Commissioner Mike Hawkins — "HB2 will either be rewritten or declared unconstitutional, and until one of those things happen it’s too early to understand what it really means.

"The question for local government is, does this change how we make decisions?

"In North Carolina, local governments can only do what the state legislature specifically allows them to do. This is a very unusual model. Most states give local governments far more autonomy than we do in North Carolina. Even allowing for that, it’s very disturbing that the General Assembly would go in and annul an action of a duly-elected local board. Regardless of what you think about any particular measure, annulment is completely contrary to conservative principles of local decisions and local accountability.

"N.C. Rep. Chris Whitmire is especially disappointing. As a nominal sponsor of HB2, he had a responsibility to communicate with Transylvania County staff as to the effects this bill has on local autonomy. He should have asked our opinion about it. Failing that, at the very least he should have given the county a heads up that it was coming. But we didn’t hear a peep from him. It makes one wonder if he had any idea what was in the bill he signed up for."

•Commissioner Page Lemel — "There are many challenging issues facing North Carolina: economic development, public school funding, child hunger and child poverty. These are difficult problems for which solutions will be complex and take time to develop. I would like to see the North Carolina General Assembly invest time and energy into generating solutions for these issues instead of overruling local government decisions.

"Local elected officials exist for local governance, as much as our Dillon Rule State allows. If you don’t like the decisions of your local elected officials, elect someone new in the next election."

•Councilwoman Ann Hollingsworth — "It was a sad day for the state of North Carolina, and we have already had some negative repercussions from House Bill 2, which will have an economic impact locally. I think this is discrimination, and it has no place in our democracy. We have public restrooms in the Hollingsworth Building and over the past 12 years we have never had any problems that would create a need for this response from our legislators, and I would like to know who is going to enforce this law? As far as the minimum wage goes, you can just ask all our local fast-food chains, restaurants and retailers what wages they start their employees and it is above the current minimum wage.

"The bottom line is that folks cannot live on the minimum wage and that is a disgrace in itself. While our state legislators are debating the minimum wage, local business owners are already starting at a higher minimum wage in order to retain good, dependable employees. Our state legislators are way behind the real world."


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