Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thou shatl not legislate in haste

Legislate in haste; regret at leisure.

The N.C. General Assembly is back in session, surrounded by pro- and anti-HB2 protesters clamoring over the so-called "bathroom bill" passed hastily last month. Both sides have fortified their positions for this battle, and even Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the hurriedly passed legislation, has called for a revision — but only a modest one.

Meanwhile, opposition to the bill has taken a more serious trajectory than a series of protests in and around the legislative building. Businesses and performers have canceled their commitments in North Carolina, saying they don't want to be a part of a place where the government dictates who uses which bathroom — an interpretation HB2 supporters say is erroneous. These cancellations have hurt the state economically, and that's a language everyone understands.

Even those rallying in favor of HB2 understand the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, but they blame the news media and deliberately misleading interpretations of the law for the losses to the state's economy.

It's difficult to say how this battle will turn out in the short legislative session. There will be attempts to repeal HB2, but repeal will be extremely difficult in a legislature so gerrymandered that most legislators need not worry about challenges from the other party.

The dispute over the full meaning and intent of HB2 will drone on through the legislative session, but one lesson might be learned from all of this: Do not rush to legislate; give the process time to work through the interpretations and nuances of any bill. Otherwise, you might be surprised by the vehemence of opposition from not only political opponents but also by businesses, performers and tourists.

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