An Analysis of HB2 vs. HB 142

Erica Smith-Ingram

An Analysis of HB2 vs. HB 142

If something is 100% bad and you have an opportunity to remove 50 or 60% of the bad – what would you do?

Would you remove all portions that you could and commit your all to continued efforts to remove remaining bad? Or would you say forget it – leave 100% bad in place?

I chose the former……..

What did HB 2 do:

· It took away your right to sue in state court for discrimination – be it age, religion, race or gender.

· It took away local governments’ rights to impose workplace protections in its contracts with private businesses.

· It allowed for the exemption of protections for a class of people that need our support and protection.

What does HB 142 do:

· Removes HB2 restrictions on what bathroom a person can use

· Leaves in place local ordinances protecting LGBT rights

· Puts time limited moratorium on new local ordinances protecting LGBT rights or restricting LGBT rights

· Restores local governments’ authority to enact local minimum wage ordinances

· Restores a person’s right to recover through the state court system when they are fired based upon race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religion.

· Restores local governments’ authority to enact family leave policies, child welfare protections and similar polices

· Restores local governments’ authority to contract on terms that include protections for all communities

· Opens the door for NCAA, ACC, NBA tournaments and other sporting events in North Carolina

· Puts North Carolina back on the list for many business and job creators.

This is where we are:

· We can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. This bill is not perfect and it’s not all that we want for our state. With our extremely limited leverage, we had to act to stop the bleeding.

· We have to look at the reality of the political landscape in North Carolina. Republicans have a super majority in the House and the Senate. They have the power to pass whatever legislation they want without any Democratic input. Which means, they could have passed a RFRA bill in response to all this; they could have passed further discriminations; they could have passed further sanctions on cities and counties.

· Repealing HB 2 lifts economic sanctions, but it doesn’t restore human rights because they weren’t effectively in place to start with – and we take the blame for that. Make no mistake: this is not the end. We must not quit until we add LGBT protections across North Carolina. But this is a good start.

In Raleigh

· S447. Turning TAs Into Teachers. (Barefoot, McInnis, Smith-Ingram)

o Amends SL 2016-94, Section 8.29, pertaining to the Teacher Assistant Tuition Reimbursement Pilot Program. Expands the pilot program to include the local boards of education in Bertie County Schools, Duplin County Schools, Edenton-Chowan County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Halifax County Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, Northampton County Schools, Tyrrell County Schools, Vance County Schools, and Washington County Schools, beginning with the 2017-18 fiscal year. Makes changes to clarify the existing specified local boards of education are participating in the pilot program beginning with the 2016-17 fiscal year. Adds a provision allowing for a teacher assistant to continue to receive salary and benefits while student teaching in the local school administrative unit in accordance with GS 115C-310 (teacher assistants engaged in student teaching).

o Directs all of the local boards of education participating in the pilot program to jointly report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by September 1, 2018, and every year thereafter, including the previous report specifications. Makes changes to clarify that the local boards of education participating in the pilot program for the 2016-17 fiscal year are to jointly report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by September 1, 2017.

o Appropriates from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction $225,000 in recurring funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year for expanding the number of local school administrative units participating in the pilot program.

· SB 483: NC Comprehensive School Accountability (Smith-Ingram, Clark)


o This bill would require comprehensive and uniform accountability through student testing for private schools receiving opportunity scholarship funds.

o Given that the state is providing public dollars to private schools for education opportunities, it is imperative that we hold these schools accountable and ensure they are being both good stewards of public dollars and effective educators.

· SB 484: PARTF Funding Conditions and Match. (Smith-Ingram)


o Sets the local governmental unit match at 50% for local park and recreation purposes other than projects described in below. Provides that the appraised value of land that is donated to a local government unite or public authority can by applied to the match required by this provision.

o Sets the local governmental unit match at 15% for tier one counties and 10% for tier two or three counties for land acquisition, including the acquisition of unbuildable lots for public recreational purposes. Requires at least 50% of the local match to be in cash, and allows up to 50% to be the value of in-kind donations by the local governmental unit.

o Sets the local governmental match at 25% in tier one counties and 10% in tier two and three counties for park and recreation site improvements. Requires at least 50% of the local match to be in cash, and allows up to 50% to be the value of in-kind donations by the local governmental unit.

Bills to Watch

· S314. Give Retirees 2% COLA/Funds. (Waddell, D. Davis, Smith-Ingram)

o Amends GS 135-5, concerning retirement benefits for teachers and state employees, adding new subsection (vvv), providing for cost-of-living increases of 2%.

o Amends GS 135-65, concerning retirement benefits for individuals in the consolidated judicial retirement system, adding new subsection (gg), providing for cost-of-living increases of 2%.

o Amends GS 120-4.22A, concerning retirement benefits for members of the legislative retirement system, adding new subsection (aa), providing for cost-of-living increases of 2%.

o Appropriates $88 million from the General Fund to the Reserve for Retiree Cost-of-Living Adjustments for the 2017-18 fiscal year and $88 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year to implement the cost-of-living adjustment authorized in this act.

· S467. North Carolina Retirement Reform. (Wells, Rabon, Rabin)

o An Act to reform the North Carolina retirement system by providing that certain persons hired by the state beginning July 1, 2018, shall participate in the North Carolina 401(k) plan or North Carolina 457 plan rather than the teachers’ and state employees’ retirement system or the consolidated judicial retirement system; to provide that members of the general assembly who first become members on or after July 1, 2018, shall participate in the North Carolina 401(k) plan or North Carolina 457 plan rather than the legislative retirement system; to provide that certain local governmental employees hired on or after July 1, 2018, shall participate in the North Carolina 401(k) plan or North Carolina 457 plan; to change state health plan eligibility for state retirees; and to make conforming changes.

Come Meet the Senator

· Northampton County Commissioners’ Meeting – Monday, April 3rd – 9am

· Washington County Commissioners’ Meeting – Monday, April 3rd – 6pm

· Tarboro High School – Monday, April 10th – 10am –

The Watch Dog response: I would love to see a Town Hall meeting to talk about these things so that the correct information can be communicated because some folk talk about the issue but I wonder do they know all the facts. I think that folk are getting bits and pieces and don’t know the whole story which would make them better able to talk about the issue. 

Butterfield Statement on 2017 NBA All-Star Game


For Release:  Immediate

Date:  July 21, 2016

                                Contact: Meaghan Lynch            

                                  Office: (202) 225.3101               

Butterfield Statement on 2017 NBA All-Star Game

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) today released the following statement regarding the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC:

“I understand the NBA’s decision to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game in light of the passage of H.B. 2. For months, North Carolinians, corporate leaders, and communities across America have expressed in the strongest possible terms their dissatisfaction with H.B. 2. The NBA’s decision demonstrates the serious price our great state has paid over this discriminatory law.  I call on Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to immediately repeal H.B. 2 before more economic damage and embarrassment occurs.”


Just Makes Sense Column

Kim Castle I agree, I guess, if they appeal the right for transgenders to use the women public restroom. I will not be using them unless someone is with me and I have a weapon. It is to crazy to take a change. I don’t have a problem with transsexual that no longer has a penis.If a transgender has a penis, he should use the men restroom. End of story. I don’t want to be in a public restroom out of state knowing a man is in the stool next to me. That is just wrong.

In response to:

I just wonder why the need for a discussion to use a bathroom. If a man has a PENIS he does not need to be in the bathroom with my wife and daughter I don’t care how he is dressed. Curmilus Butch Dancy II

Since HB2 was based on ignance then why not repeal it and call it what it is? That would be too much like right. Just my ignant opinion!

HB2 Bill How It All Began!

Reuben Blackwell Let’s understand where this all started. In 2008, when North Carolinians voted for Sen. Obama and pushed forward the momentum in the South to elect a person of color to lead the world, GOP leadership opted to unravel gains our state’s majority voted for. So with millions of dollars poured into political coffers and media, two years later new GOP legislators were elected. Two years later in 2012, NC was gerrymandered and the rest is history. Since then, every bit of progress our state made has been attacked and eroded. So when I and others ask for recognition and support for poor people and black people, and others turn their heads and say, that’s not my fight or my problem, just know that one day your card might be pulled! Race matters, justice matters and black lives matter. As we go…so do you! So grow a backbone and a conscience and oppose this hateful, onerous and ignorant law. And then when it’s repealed, keep standing for justice for everyone….INCLUDING BLACK PEOPLE!

See related:

HB2 Bathrooms? Not! 

H2 Bill

HB2 Bill Bathrooms Really? Part 1

Any time the good ole boys hold a special session you best believe it ain’t good and it will be something against poor people and people of color.

This was a special session meeting to put this BS out to get other parts of the bills out that outright discriminate when it comes to health care, labor and other. I am having some information sent to me as we speak so I can educate folk about this ignant bill.

Why did they see a need to discuss bathrooms? Hell I have used women bathrooms if if it had a lock where I could lock myself in. I have used a little boys room as well. This is when and only when it was absolutely a need.

I refuse to talk only about bathrooms when they had cutoff the unemployment time, can’t file a lawsuit against employer at the state level, got to go to Federal and a person already unemployed. Got 6 months to sue instead of 3 years. This bill was a smoke screen for discriminatory practice by the NC General Assembly. Poor people and people of color will experience this problem.

They did it during Special Session because it would be in affect for 24 days before the NC General Assembly goes back in session.

See following in regards to HB2 Bill from some in the NC General Assembly and others.

My concern is not about the companies but about the NC General Assembly and the bill. When I get past that then I can get to the companies.

My concern too though is like I addressed a group in Rocky Mount last night, I want to see groups like the host of the meeting last night address the Human Relations Commissions Nash & Edgecombe to have some public meetings to address police and community accountability and other like HB2 so folk can get the whole story and not bits and pieces.

I don’t see the Edgecombe County Democratic Party talking about issues attempting to educate the citizens.

Washington Blade: American’s Leader Gay News Source)

Info re interviewer, Chris Johnson

Call-in number:  734-834-7895 

GOP messaging:

· Businesses are intimidated

· Businesses are misinformed

· Public not given opportunity to be informed

Businesses that have spoken out against HB2:A

1. PayPal

2. Google

3. Facebook

4. Apple

5. American Airlines

6. Biogen

7. IBM

8. RedHat

9. Bayer

10. Dow

11. Lowe’s

12. Merrill Lynch

13. NCAA

14. NBA

15. NFL

— (per Wes’ list, as of date) —

16. Chad Hurley, Cofounder, YouTube

17. Devin Wenig, CEO, eBay

18. Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square and Twitter

19. Reid Hoffman, Chairman, LinkedIn

20. Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo

21. Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox

22. Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber

23. David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr

24. Ron Boire, CEO, Barnes and Noble

25. John Bryant, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kellogg Company

26. Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

27. Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.

28. Charles H. Hill III, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources, Pfizer Inc.

29. Robert Hohman, Cofounder & CEO, Glassdoor

30. Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel     

31. Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

32. Steve Joyce, CEO, Choice Hotels International

33. Tom Mangas, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

34. Brian Moynihan, CEO, Bank of America

35. William H. Howle, President of U.S. Retail Banking Group, Citibank

36. Mike Pedersen, CEO and President, TD Bank, N.A.

37. Lionsgate

38. A & E Network

39. 21st Century Fox

40. Hari Nair, Vice President and General Manager, &

41. Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide

42. Mitchell Gold, co-founder and chairman, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

43. John H. Graham IV, President and CEO, American Society of Association Executives

44. Michael Birch, Founder, Blab

45. Ed Black, President and CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association

46. Nathan Blecharczyk, Cofounder and CTO + Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and Chief Product Officer, Airbnb

47. Steven R. Boal, CEO, Quotient Technology Inc.

48. Lorna Borenstein, CEO, Grokker

49. Brad Brinegar, Chairman and CEO, McKinney

50. Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman

51. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, co-CEOs, Atlassian

52. Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.

53. Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb

54. Ron Conway, Founder and Co-Managing Partner, SV Angel

55. Paul T. Dacier, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, EMC Corporation

56. Dean Debnam, Chairman and CEO, Workplace Options

57. David Ebersman, Cofounder and CEO, Lyra Health

58. Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners

59. Vice Forlenza, Chairman, CEO and President, BD

60. Jason Goldberg, CEO, Pepo

61. Alan King, President and COO, Workplace Options

62. Kristen Koh Goldstein, CEO, BackOps

63. Logan Green, CEO, Lyft

64. Mike Gregoire, CEO, CA Technologies

65. Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator

66. David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

67. Steve Huffman, CEO, Reddit

68. Dave Imre, Partner and CEO, IMRE

69. Dev Ittycheria, President & CEO, MongoDB

70. Laurene Powell Jobs, President, Emerson Collective

71. Cecily Joseph, VP Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Symantec Corporation

72. Travis Katz, Founder and CEO, Gogobot

73. Joshua Kushner, Managing Partner, Thrive Capital

74. Michael W. Lamach, Chairman and CEO, Ingersoll-Rand plc

75. Ralph Lauren and Stefan Larrsson, Ralph Lauren Corporation

76. Jeff Lawson, Founder, CEO and Chairman, Twilio

77. Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm

78. Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson

79. Shan-lyn Ma, CEO, Zola

80. Vishal Makhijani, COO, Udacity

81. Melody McCloskey, CEO, StyleSeat

82. Douglas Merrill, CEO, Zestfinance

83. Dyke Messinger, President and CEO, Power Curbers Inc.

84. Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm Inc.

85. Michael Natenshon, CEO, Marine Layer

86. Alexi G. Nazem, Cofounder and CEO, Nomad Health

87. Alexis Ohanian, Cofounder, Reddit

88. Laurie J. Olson, EVP, Strategy, Portfolio and Commercial Operations, Pfizer Inc.

89. Bob Page, Founder and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.

90. Michelle Peluso, Strategic Advisor and former CEO, Gilt

91. Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

92. Mark Pincus, Founder and Executive Chairman, Zynga

93. Hosain Rahman, CEO, Jawbone

94. Bill Ready, CEO, Braintree

95. Evan Reece, CEO, Liftopia

96. Stan Reiss, General Partner, Matrix Partners

97. John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation

98. Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco Systems

99. Virginia M. Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM Corporation

100.Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg

101.Kevin P. Ryan, Founder and Chairman, Alleycorp

102.Bijan Sabet, General Partner, Spark Capital

103.Julie Samuels, President, Engine

104.George A. Scangos, PhD, CEO, Biogen

105.Paula Schneider, CEO, American Apparel

106.Steve Schoch, CEO, Miramax

107.Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal

108.Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO, Starbucks

109.Adam Shankman, Director and Producer

110.Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association

111.David A. Shaywitz, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, DNAnexus

112.Behshad Sheldon, President and CEO, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals

113.Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest

114.Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

115.Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International

116.David Spector, Cofounder, ThirdLove

117.Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp

118.John G. Stumpf, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Wells Fargo & Company

119.Julie Sweet, Group Chief Executive North America, Accenture

120.Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip

121.Todd Thibodeaux, CEO, CompTIA

122.Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

123.David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup

124.Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor

125.Kevin A. Trapani, President and CEO, The Redwood Groups

126.Mark Trudeau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

127.Ken Wasch, President, Software & Information Industry Association

128.Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of Wasserman & President and CEO of the Wasserman Foundation

129.Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen, The Weinstein Company

130.Tim Westergren, Founder and CEO, Pandora Media, Inc.

131.Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box

132.Brandee Barker, Cofounder, The Pramana Collective

In addition, the following governmental units have voiced opposition:

1. State of New York

2. State of Connecticut

3. State of Vermont

4. City of Atlanta

5. City of San Francisco

6. City of Seattle

7. City of Portland

8. City of New York

9. City of Boston


*** Several federal agencies and the White House have spoken negatively of the law and it’s perceived impact largely re Title IX funding.

NC’s Jiggery-Pokery: HB2 isn’t just about restrooms

Other discriminatory parts of the bill are not getting as much as attention as the restroom access provision yet those other provisions affect members of the LBGT community as well.

Summary of all of NC’s HB2

HB2 also affects minimum wage, employment conditions, income equality

HB2 eliminates any state law protection for race and sex discrimination in the workplace and that affects women, pregnant women, people of color, immigrants, and others that require anti-discrimination protections.  The law’s far reaching provisions are destructive to labor, working families, minorities, and small businesses plus the economic repercussions continue: April 5, 2016, PayPay announces its withdrawal of Expanding in NC, 400 Jobs Lost. 

Note:  In what seems to be a provision in anticipation of litigation and foreshadowing the outcome, GOP legislators inserted a severability clause (Part IV) into the bill.  If one discriminatory section is ruled invalid by a court, the other discriminatory sections can remain in force.  This severability clause makes it dangerous to reduce HB2 to only a conversation about restroom access since the law’s damage is broader than publicized and affects everyone.

The illusory HB2 and what they don’t want people to know:

Women Beware:  HB 2 eliminates all existing state law remedies for women from being demoted, transferred, or terminated from their job because of their sex.

HB 2 also eliminates any state law claim for discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or ethnicity.

HB 2 eliminates any state law claim for wrongful termination of an employee on the basis of skin color.

The last sentence of section § 143-422.3. Now only Mississippi and North Carolina provide no state law remedy for any type of employment discrimination. Local governments cannot protect their citizens from discrimination by private businesses and employees cannot file an action in their local courthouse.  Although U.S. citizens can sue in federal court for sex or race discrimination, an EEOC claim is harder and more expensive to file in federal court.  48 states think that a right to sue in state court is necessary for justice and to signal the importance of diversity and nondiscrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, and religion. 

HB 2 overturned and eliminated all existing local ordinances and any ability to enact family leave policies, child welfare protections, limits on the number of consecutive hours an employee may be required to work without a break, and health insurance standards for contractors in their community.

HB 2 overturned and eliminated all existing local authority to enact minimum wage standards for public-sector contractors in their community.

Section § 2.1.

HB 2 eliminates the existing state law remedy that now protects (but no longer will) a person who has been terminated from their job on the basis of religion.

§ 143-422.2 states: “The regulation of discriminatory practices in employment is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, such that this Article and other applicable provisions of the General Statutes supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment, except such regulations applicable to personnel employed by that body that are not otherwise in conflict with State law.”  The next provision, “This article does not create and shall not be construed to create or support a statutory or common-law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed above,” renders the prior sentence powerless.  The “right” cannot be enforced.

HB 2 has overturned all existing local ordinances and protections for LGBT citizens in North Carolina and banned any communities from ever enacting any such protections again.

Sections § 143-222.3 and 222.1.

HB 2 requires school systems to enact regulations on single-sex, multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities interprets to be in direct violation of the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights guidance.

HB 2 requires, in multiple-occupancy public bathrooms, that transgendered males, who were born female but now exhibit fully male characteristics and who have not or cannot change their birth certificate, use female restrooms and seems to be in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

ForbesPersonal Finance – 4/04/2016

NC HB2 Trans “Bathroom” Bill Also Cements Income Inequality

North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom” bill that requires trans people to use the bathroom for the gender indicated on their birth certificates has received national attention. Unfortunately, coverage of the bill — really, the law, at this point — has largely been reduced to who should be able to use which bathroom.

It is more. There has been at least some discussion of how the new law prohibits a local government or any “political subdivision of the state” from establishing gender identity as a class protected from employment discrimination. What has received little attention is how an entire section of the law has nothing explicit to do with issues of gender identity. Instead, it prohibits local governments from affecting employment conditions in private companies.

Part 2 of the law, which reworks the state’s “Wage and Hour Act,” prevents any local government, whether city, town, or county, from regulating wage levels, hours of labor, or benefits of private employers. Here is the pertinent language:

The provisions of this Article supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to compensation of employees, such as the wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, benefits, leave, or well-being of minors in the workforce.

A local government still can control benefits and compensation of its own employees, although it cannot place any requirements on contractors it uses to carry out work. In the past, according to the sections struck, a local government could place requirements on a contractor so long as it could have imposed the same requirements on all its employees.

Some of the advances in battling income inequality have come at the local level. Cities and counties have set higher minimum wages, regulated the number of hours employers must provide employees, required that employers give advanced notice of hours so employees can manage their personal and other work schedules, and instituted mandatory sick time.

Under HB2, that is not possible in North Carolina.

Plus, there’s an additional twist:

A city [or county] may not require a private contractor under this section to abide by regulations or controls on the contractor’s employment practices or mandate or prohibit the provision of goods, services, or accommodations to any member of the public as a condition of bidding on a contract or a qualification-based selection, except as otherwise required by state law.

That would seem to reinforce the last section of the law, meaning that a locality couldn’t require a contractor to service any particular group, like trans people, if not required to by state law.

And then there is section 4, the severability clause. If any part of this law is held invalid or unenforceable, presumably through a court’s action, the other parts of the law remain in force. Should a court toss out the gender identity portions of the bill, the restrictions on regulating behavior of employers on a local level remains.
Perhaps the restriction of local regulations was a sop tossed to large franchises to
keep them from publicly opposing the law the way some major corporations operating in the state have. Some of these franchise chains have been increasingly supportive of gender and sexual rights in their national advertising, but would presumably be among the operations affected by, say, a higher local minimum wage or demands on hours. Or maybe this was a way to focus attention on one issue while sliding something else through, with North Carolina politicians pushing the measure correctly gauging which parts would get the attention.

But it’s certainly a setback to those pushing for greater income equality, especially as North Carolina’s minimum wage is the same as the federal one: $7.25 an hour. So, for example, a push in Durham to raise the minimum wage to $12.33 an hour would appear to be dead in the water.

The $42,000 Extra Session

Democratic Leader Larry Hall – GUEST COMMENTARY – SPECTACULAR MAGAZINE – April 2016

Republicans boasted in early March that they would call a special session to interfere with the City of Charlotte’s conduct of local business.  It was publicized as an action to overturn a Charlotte restroom access ordinance, but in fact it was loaded with far reaching provisions that are destructive to labor, working families, minorities, and small businesses.  This new “law” facilitates statewide discrimination, prevents local governments from raising the minimum wage, eliminates citizens’ right to sue in state court for workplace discrimination, and overturns the will of local communities.

On March 3, 2016, as the Democratic Leader of the N.C. House of Representatives, I called on House Speaker Tim Moore to be fiscally responsible and to stop yet another taking of local control.  The letter warned that a special session was not in the best interest of the state or the people of North Carolina, revealed the costly session as an election cycle fundraiser maneuver, and foreshadowed more unnecessary legal expenses with taxpayers footing the bill. 

Without transparency and extremely limited public input, and despite the 2016 legislative session being only a month away, a $42,000 per day special session to hear the illusory House Bill 2 on March 23, 2016 was called.  Legislators were given only five (5) minutes to read the bill and constituents were denied any meaningful right to review as Republicans refused to post the bill on the website per standard operating procedure.  Predictably, there was no time for legislators to interact with our constituents.  The bill that encourages statewide discrimination passed the Republican-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate that day and the Governor signed it into law hours later.  The whole process was rushed through in less than ten (10) hours.


House Bill 2 is a huge power grab by state government.  The law restricts local governments from raising wages and from dictating job standards in public contracts.  It prohibits cities from raising the minimum wage higher than the state’s minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, and it makes it harder to create jobs that pay employees a living wage –a wage sufficient enough to cover the basics.  The law takes money away from middle class families by preventing them from being paid a living wage.  The law prohibits local governments and local employment ordinances that encourage higher worker wages, benefits, and leave policies.


HB2 legalizes discrimination and prohibits local governments from banning discrimination by private businesses.  Business are now free to discriminate against citizens at will without recourse.  Local governments cannot protect their citizens from discrimination by private businesses.  This new law eliminates your right to file a civil action in state court at the local county courthouse.  Your only recourse is to travel to a city with a federal courthouse. An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim is more expensive and harder to file in federal court.  As an employee, you have less rights and protections today than you had on March 22nd.  Be clear, any law that undermines the rights of one group can undermine the rights of everyone. 


This law leaves employees defenseless.  It effects everyone –people of color, women, older workers, religious minorities, immigrants, and others that require anti-discrimination protections.  HB2 eliminates the right of employees to sue their employer in state court when fired for a discriminatory reason.  Mississippi and now North Carolina are the only states without a state law to protect private employees from workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, or sex. 


House Bill 2 damages our state’s business reputation and trashes the “new” state brand.  There is national outrage and a corporate backlash.  Companies already speaking out against HB2:  Apple, American Airlines, Biogen, IBM, Facebook, RedHat, PayPal, Bayer, Dow, Google, Lowe’s, Merrill Lynch, NCAA, NBA, NFL.  People are refusing to vacation in North Carolina which hurts our travel industry and a Hollywood movie producer has called for a boycott from filming in the state. And the backlash is growing.  HB2 could affect corporations considering our state for upcoming events: ESPN and the summer X Games, the NBA and the 2017 All-Star Game, and the NCAA and the 2017 and 2018 tournaments.  This unconstitutional law also imposes requirements on public schools which could affect federal education funding. 

The $42,000 session did not solve a problem –people are still dying each day due to Republican refusal to expand Medicaid, teachers are still leaving the state, education funding has not been increased, tens of thousands are still burdened by Voter ID, districts are still gerrymandered, our working poor are still in poverty, and our middle-class continues to carry the weight of the tax breaks for the wealthy.  North Carolina is now being compared with Mississippi and continues to be surpassed by South Carolina.

As foreshadowed, a federal lawsuit was filed on Monday, March 28, 2016 challenging House Bill 2.

Online edition:

Rep. John Ager: Why I voted against HB2

Rep. John Ager – GUEST COLUMNIST – CITIZEN TIMES – April 4, 2016

It was never really about the bathrooms. They were the hook, the Trojan horse to do so much more to North Carolina citizens and local government; a political ploy as fodder for the 2016 election.

Regarding the bathrooms, bad behavior of any sort should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but making rules that are unenforceable is never a good way to go. It was never about safety. If there were real safety issues, the General Assembly would not have allowed private businesses and venues (like Charlotte Motor Speedway and BoA Panthers stadium) to follow the same procedures as the Charlotte ordinance. Why would I not believe that I have been in the bathroom with not only transgender persons, but gay men as well? The safety issue is actually being taken care of with the spread of family bathrooms that can be locked and kept private. North Carolina has added them to their highway rest stops, as have airports.

HB 2 puts into law that Big Government in Raleigh will dictate to local governments what they can and cannot do. It will not be a collaborative effort to create good government, but our way or the highway. It turns out that the water and airport transfers were only the beginning.

HB 2 removes workplace protections in North Carolina. You can be fired for your race, religion, national origin, age, sex and disability and have no recourse in state courts for a discrimination law suit. You can only file suit in federal court, which is a lengthy, cumbersome and expensive process.

HB 2 has branded our state as intolerant. A long list of corporations have condemned the law. They have been trying to wring out discrimination from their cultures, and attract the best talent on the market. Investment in North Carolina could take a hit. The NBA All-Star game could be moved out of state. I was pleased to see HB 2 condemned by the Montreat Conference Center, located in my district.

While I was writing this opinion piece, a Buncombe County father called to tell me his family story. He said he was a regular guy who might have supported a bill like HB 2 in the past. But he said his family has been on a journey as one of his children transitions to another sexual identity. He said his child is now starting to thrive, and he is encouraged by what he sees. I said one of the most disturbing facts I learned during the debate was that transgender suicide rates were 41 percent. He knew that number, but said if the transition is successful the number goes back to normal.

There are real lives out there that HB 2 affects. The hurried way it was presented, voted on and signed into law is indicative of how bad laws are made. Gov. McCrory would have been better served to wait before he signed HB 2, and maybe he would have pulled out the veto pen like Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal.

John Ager, D-Fairview, represents the 115th District in the N.C. House.