This year's budget technical corrections bill sets aside $500,000 to defend North Carolina against lawsuits over the controversial House Bill 2. The Senate has already passed the $22.34 billion budget, and House members are poised to give their approval Thursday and Friday. However, every year, lawmakers write a "technical corrections" bill... Among the dozens of provisions, it transfers $500,000 from the state's Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund to Gov. Pat McCrory's office in order to handle litigation over House Bill 2.
One of the more common criticisms of lawmakers who take up culture-war legislation is that they're a divisive waste of time, distracting attention away from real policy work that needs to be done. And while that's true, let's not forget how expensive these gambits can be.
When Republican policymakers in North Dakota passed a "fetal heartbeat" bill, the legislation was struck down in court, and it also cost local taxpayers a bundle to finance the GOP's experiment. The same was true of Alabama's efforts to implement an anti-abortion policy: the measure was blocked in the courts, and state residents were forced to pick up the tab.
All of which brings us to North Carolina, where defending the state's controversial, anti-LGBT law -- better known as HB 2 -- is also going to be expensive. WRAL in Raleigh reported yesterday:
The governor reportedly asked lawmakers to approve the money to defend the law, which state Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has said he opposes. (Cooper is taking on McCrory in this year's gubernatorial election.) The $500,000 is taxpayer money, not a privately financed defense fund.
It's unclear what will happen if North Carolina's Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund needs that money.
As for whether the state's Republican policymakers, who rushed through HB 2 without fully thinking through its implications, might consider repealing or amending the anti-LGBT statute, there's been some discussion to that effect, but as of yesterday, changes appear unlikely.
WRAL also reported last night, "After talking behind closed doors for hours Thursday, House Republicans said the prospect of passing legislation to appease some of the concerns with House Bill 2 is slim."