TAR HEEL VIEW: Repeal HB2 before it’s too late

It’s time to brace ourselves for another round of economic blows, courtesy of HB2.

The NCAA has begun choosing venues for its 2018-22 cycle, and may skip over North Carolina, including basketball tournament games in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro during that period, because of House Bill 2. So said Scott Dupree, the executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and a N.C. Sports Association member, in a one-page letter hand-delivered to the offices of all state legislators on Monday, the Journal’s Richard Craver reported.

“In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses and will essentially close its doors to NCAA business,” he wrote legislators. “Our window to act is closing rapidly.”

North Carolina cities and schools have submitted 133 bids for NCAA events with a potential economic impact of $250 million, Dupree told The Charlotte Observer.

This is just the latest of many economic and cultural blows to the state because of the wrongheaded HB2 “bathroom” bill, a travesty that Republican legislators seem both unable and unwilling to correct — and one that Fortune magazine estimated has cost the state at least $600 million in economic benefits since it was passed early in 2016, the Journal reported.

Even North Carolina basketball Coach Roy Williams and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski agree that HB2 is a bad idea. But they’ve not been able to dissuade the Republicans who are propping it up.

Democrats have tried in vain to get a bill repealing HB2 before the legislature, and some say it could be repealed in a floor vote. But Republicans aren’t likely to let that happen.

Legislators who support HB2 have long claimed its necessity in keeping school children safe from people disguising themselves as transgender people. This is nothing but boogeyman politics, creating threats that don’t exist in order to look brave while combating them.

But thanks to gerrymandering, rural county Republicans aren’t likely to pay a price for their recalcitrance. They’ve engineered a symbiotic relationship in which they’re safe from the consequences of their actions.

“The sweeping results of the past election have emboldened them in what they believe to be a moral stance even if that stance (though misinformed and misguided) is against the best interests of the state,” Rep. Ed Hanes, D-Forsyth, told the Journal. “Urban-based Republicans won’t fight that group, by and large.”

Struggling rural counties aren’t likely to be any worse off if Greensboro and Raleigh lose revenue because of HB2. But our cities will suffer. And our reputation as a state will continue to suffer.

“These [NBA, NCAA and ACC] are organizations making business decisions,” John Sweeney, a marketing professor at UNC Chapel Hill with a focus on sports, told the Journal. “The HB2 law is clearly viewed as extremist and discriminatory by mainstream organizations in sports and traditional business.”

So thank Republican legislators for their continued damage to the state. And thank them for sports-free evenings to devote to other activities.

The Winston-Salem Journal