March 30, 2017

Is North Carolina About to Flush the Bathroom Law?

A repeal compromise comes after the NCAA’s threat and the AP’s “analysis.”

The NCAA Final Four playoffs may be more than a week away, but the final shot for North Carolina — the state, not the team — may come much sooner.

The state’s legislators reportedly struck a deal Wednesday to repeal the year-old “bathroom bill” (HB2), which codifies the obvious — that biological men should use men’s restrooms and women, women’s. That law was in response to a Charlotte ordinance mandating that businesses allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice instead of their sex.

> Update: The repeal went through.

On Tuesday, the NCAA issued the state an ultimatum: repeal or gut the law within 48 hours or be disqualified from hosting any NCAA events through the spring of 2022. NCAA site selections for 2018-22 will begin next week, and North Carolina venues have reportedly submitted more than 130 bids that could bring the state more than $250 million.

It would appear legislators caved, though “LGBT” activists aren’t happy because the compromise doesn’t go far enough for them.

Of course, if the Associated Press is the arbiter of all truth, the price of HB2 has already soared. This week, the AP tagged the bill’s cost to the state at $3.76 billion over 12 years. The AP’s analysis concluded: “Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state’s economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town’s amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue. The blows have landed in the state’s biggest cities as well as towns surrounding its flagship university, and from the mountains to the coast.”

Did you catch that? PayPal’s lefty-activist move accounts for nearly three-quarters of the economic impact.

Additionally, the AP pointed to companies such as Deutsche Bank, which stopped plans in North Carolina due to the law; CoStar, which located a new research center in Virginia instead of North Carolina due to “negative publicity over the law”; and Adidas, which opted not to put a factory in the Tar Heel State because of the law.

First, the AP’s estimate is likely vastly overstated. Second, conveniently missing from the AP analysis is a look at North Carolina’s thriving economy despite HB2. As the Washington Times reports, “Economic indicators released for 2016 show that the boycott has failed to derail North Carolina as a regional and national powerhouse.”

Indeed, in 2016, the state ranked fourth nationally for attracting and expanding businesses, topped the region in attracting corporate facilities, and earned Forbes No. 2 slot for business climate. What’s more, between 2015 and 2016, North Carolina’s average unemployment rate fell from 5.8% to 5.1%.

Additionally, VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, announced a record-breaking year for hotel lodging. Hotel and motel occupancy in 2016 rose by 3.4% over 2015, and the average room rate increased by 3.6%. In fact, according to VisitNC, “each month of 2016 experienced the highest occupancy on record.”

This hardly bears out the predictions of doom and gloom.

As North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest recently said when addressing the current impact of HB2 (not a possible future impact which may or may not happen), “If you look at the most extreme instances of economic impact, by the media and by the universities and the people who come out and say ‘This is the impact,’ that most extreme impact equates to one-tenth of 1% of our annual GDP.”

Ranking this claim as “true,” Politifact noted, “While $500 million in economic losses (not to mention at least 1,400 jobs lost) is not insignificant, the state’s overall economy is large enough that the losses are only about 0.1 percent of the total GDP.”

Given North Carolina’s highly attractive business climate, it’s very possible any future “losses” will also be significantly offset by continued growth.

In reality, the issue really was never about luring or losing businesses. It was about one thing the Left usually loves: safe spaces. As Lt. Gov. Forest stated, “Don’t be fooled by the media; this issue is not about the economy. This issue is about privacy, safety and security in the most vulnerable places we go. This is about doing the right thing. And I will never trade the privacy, safety and security of a woman or a child for a basketball ticket, and neither should you.”

It would appear newly elected Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper and a number of Republican legislators don’t quite agree. Whether they beat the NCAA’s buzzer is another question.

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