May 8, 2016
North Carolina HB2: With Hours Remaining Until Deadline, Will State Respond?

North Carolina's HB2 has the state's government in a tight spot. Facing a deadline from the Federal Department of Justice, state legislators must decide what to do about the law that has already cost the state revenue and now stands to cost Federal funding as well.

HB2 (full text here, PDF), commonly known as the "Bathroom Bill," requires all buildings and offices directed by state government, including courtrooms, schools, and state universities, to maintain separate restroom facilities for male and female patrons. Further, it defines male and female by the sex issued on the individual's birth certificate rather than identity or anatomy.

The ACLU responded to the law, filing a suit on behalf of plaintiffs and saying this.

"The law is intolerable and puts the most vulnerable among us at risk of discrimination, harassment, and violence."
When Mother Jones asked North Carolina police officers how they would enforce the law, they received little information. Police said that the legislation lacks guidelines for enforcement, and it contains no penalty recommendations for a violation. State Representative Rodney Moore said there is "absolutely no way" to enforce HB2.

Pat McCrory on North Carolina HB2: I need more time
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]The Federal Department of Justice addressed North Carolina legislators on Wednesday, warning that HB2 violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. According to NPR, state officials were given a Monday deadline to respond and make clear whether they would comply with Federal authority on the matter.

That deadline now looms only hours in the future, and it's still unclear whether North Carolina's legislators with continue to defy Federal Civil Rights laws, or repeal HB2.

Senators and Representatives in the state are sending a plethora of mixed messages on the matter.

As of Friday, State Senator Phil Berger was still defending the law and calling for citizens to sign a petition supporting it.

Senator Jeff Jackson, who has opposed HB2 from the beginning, and who has consistently informed constituents about content and repercussions of the law, polled his Twitter following on Saturday, discovering that most respondents think the North Carolina General Assembly messed up.

Jim Martin, Republican and former Governor, agrees with that majority, though he feels that the problem started when the city of Charlotte began with a nondiscrimination ordinance that, among other things, protected the right of individuals to use the restroom matching their identity, regardless of sex assigned at birth. Still, in an op-ed for the News & Observer, he says that the North Carolina General Assembly needs to take the matter up and fix it rather than wait for a Federal Judge or the Supreme Court to order it to do so.

Another GOP member, Senator Richard Burr, is also calling for the state to respond to the DOJ's letter by the deadline.

North Carolina Representative Brian Turner is appealing on behalf of the state and his local economy, warning that loss of Federal funding will result in a substantial tax increase.

"In speaking with officials from Buncombe County Schools and University of North Carolina at Asheville I have learned that BCS could lose $18 million dollars and UNCA could lose $15 million in federal funds due to HB2."

"To put that in perspective, to replace the lost federal money UNC Asheville would have to almost double tuition and Buncombe County would have to increase property taxes by approximately 10%."

"This is a dangerous game of chicken Raleigh is playing and Buncombe County cannot afford to lose."

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest is referring to the DOJ's letter as "Obama hold[ing] North Carolina children hostage," since a possible result of a Title IX violation is withdrawal of Federal funding from the state.
LT Gov: North Carolina HB2: Obama holding children hostage
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]Meanwhile, according to the News & Observer, Governor Pat McCrory has asked for an extension on the deadline to respond to the DOJ about HB2. He says that the three (working) days deadline was unrealistic, and that the Federal government is "being a bully."

McCrory says he was told his request would be granted only if he admitted that HB2 is a discriminatory law.

"I'm not going to publicly announce that something discriminates."
As ABC11 reports, North Carolina HB2 was passed in a single-day special session.

[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]