Just over one year after North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature passed HB2, the notorious anti-LGBTQ "bathroom bill," we now have a sense of just how serious the economic fallout from the law could be for the state.
According to a just-released estimate from the Associated Press, North Carolina could suffer losses of more than $3.76 billion over the coming dozen years if HB2 remains in effect.
The price tag was derived by tabulating North Carolina Commerce Department projections for large businesses that have pulled out of the state following the bill's passage, as well as smaller, downstream effects, such as canceled conferences, performances, and conventions.
The AP's estimate comes just days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association threatened to pull upcoming tournaments from North Carolina through 2022 should the bill not be repealed.
As the AP notes, however, North Carolina Republicans have been reluctant to address the economic ramifications of the law.
"The effect is minimal to the state," NC Lt. Gov Dan Forest reportedly told colleagues in Texas, during their debate over whether to enact a similar law to restrict access to restrooms based on gender identity. "Our economy is doing well. Don't be fooled by the media. This issue is not about the economy. This issue is about privacy, safety and security in the most vulnerable places we go."
Experts estimate Texas could stand to lose up to $8.5 billion should that state pass its own bathroom bill.
Forest's comments echo those of former state commerce secretary John Skvarla, who in late 2016 claimed that HB2 "hasn’t moved the needle one iota" when it comes to North Carolina's economy. His comments were made in regards tech giant PayPal's decision to cancel a proposed $3.6 million dollar operations facility in the state.
Efforts to repeal the bill have largely stalled in the state legislature. But the AP's newest projection may light a fire under lawmakers who have thus far proven unwilling—or unable—to roll back HB2's harmful policies.