A year later, HB2 has cost North Carolina millions. How much wor - | WBTV Charlotte

A year later, HB2 has cost North Carolina millions. How much worse will it get?

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and other civic leaders held a press conference on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on House Bill 2. (Source: John Simmons | Charlotte Observer) Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and other civic leaders held a press conference on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on House Bill 2. (Source: John Simmons | Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jim Morrill, Katherine Peralta, and Steve Harrison | The Charlotte Observer) - House Bill 2 has cost North Carolina a year of lost NCAA and ACC championships, an NBA All-Star Game, jobs and economic development. Now the state can brace for more.

As North Carolina marks the first anniversary of House Bill 2 next week, an ongoing political stalemate is making a prolonged economic backlash – and future anniversaries – likely.

The law, widely criticized as anti-LGBT, has cost North Carolinians jobs, money, performances and events, including this month’s NCAA basketball tournament.

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“The longer it stays on our books, the more difficulty we will have repairing the damage,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said last week. “It’s hard to quantify the damage.”

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It’s also hard to predict what the ultimate cost will be – so far, it’s estimated that the controversial bill has cost the state more than half a billion dollars, and thousands of jobs.

An NAACP boycott over the Confederate flag in South Carolina lasted more than 15 years, causing the loss of NCAA tournament games and other events. An NFL boycott over Arizona’s decision not to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday cost that state a Super Bowl.

Lawmakers tried to repeal HB2 in December but Democrats and many Republicans turned back a proposal from GOP Senate leader Phil Berger. Democrats said the proposal reneged on a deal for outright repeal.

Other attempts have since failed. Last week lawmakers faced a reported deadline from the NCAA, which is choosing championship venues through 2022. Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro are among the cities bidding for over 130 NCAA events.

RELATED: N.C. cities still gunning to host NCAA games despite HB2

The NCAA declined to confirm any deadline. But in a statement, it said, “Our constitution and values commit us to respecting the dignity of every person.…(O)ur principles have not changed.”

Some fear that without a deadline, any sense of urgency will fade.

“This place operates on deadlines,” said House Minority Leader Darren Jackson of Raleigh. “Without that deadline, we’re just afraid it will fall through the cracks and people will move on to the next issue.”

Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College political scientist, said he finds it unlikely that any side will be willing to compromise on such a “hyper-polarized” issue.

“If something isn’t resolved probably by the courts fairly soon, this could be North Carolina’s new environment,” Bitzer said.

It also could continue to exacerbate tensions between urban and rural North Carolina, with implications for other policies.

Metro areas, typically more socially progressive, have lost the most business over HB2. Animosity toward Charlotte, in particular, was evident during the December special session that resulted in the failed attempt to repeal the law. Republican Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson said he had “no faith in the city of Charlotte,” calling its City Council “the lunatic left.”

And the economic backlash is likely to continue.

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The NBA moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte. The ACC, like the NCAA, has moved events including the football championship once scheduled for Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium – though conference officials have said they don’t plan to move its headquarters from Greensboro. Cooper said economic development experts have told him that “a number” of Fortune 500 companies have taken the state off their lists.

Through research and interviews with economists, Politifact estimates that HB2 has cost North Carolina between $450 million and $630 million. But in perspective, that accounts for 0.1 percent of the state’s annual gross domestic product, notes Michael Walden, an N.C. State economist.

“So we know that it’s hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, but it could be worse than that because what we’re not getting is what we don’t know,” Cooper said. “I’ll just have to spend that extra 15 to 20 minutes that I have to spend in most of my recruiting sessions answering questions from companies about House Bill 2 and why it’s still on the books.”

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In the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers in 15 states have introduced some version of a “bathroom bill” that requires people to use the restroom and locker room in public facilities that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Last week Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe cited HB2 in a tweet designed to lure companies to his state.

“To NC companies and families tired of anti-LGBT attacks like #HB2 - Virginia welcomes you, no matter whom you love,” he tweeted.

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