Updated: McCrory, Lawmakers Using Disaster Funds to Defend HB2

Jul 1, 2016

Updated 8/2 7:25 am (Associated Press): Gov. Pat McCrory decided against signing one bill sent by the legislature because money appropriated to defend House Bill 2 originated from a disaster relief fund.

The bill became law without McCrory's signature as a deadline passed Sunday night. It contained many tweaks to a larger budget measure, including $500,000 for the governor's office for legal costs of defending House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination rules for LGBTQ people

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said Monday the governor would have preferred that money come from Attorney General Roy Cooper, who won't defend the law because he calls it discriminatory. Attorneys for McCrory and legislative leaders have stepped in.

Otherwise, McCrory signed about 50 other bills before the deadline.

Original Story:

By a vote of 89-23, the North Carolina House passed a technical corrections bill that, among many things, takes $500,000 from disaster relief funds for the purpose of defending the controversial House Bill 2 in court.  The bill now heads to Governor Pat McCrory, who signed HB2.  House Bill 805 includes a section that reads as follows:

SECTION 8.1. If House Bill 1030, 2015 Regular Session, becomes law, then of the 21 funds appropriated in that act to the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund (Budget 22 Code 19930), the sum of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) in nonrecurring funds for the 23 2016-2017 fiscal year shall be transferred to the Governor's Office (Account Code 13000) to be 24 used to fund costs incurred from litigation related to S.L. 2016-3.

Democratic Rep. Chris Sgro of Greensboro, who also leads the state gay rights group Equality NC, flagged the section of the bill dealing with the money.  Sgro says the bill would divert money from disaster relief to "litigate a problem that this body brought upon the state of North Carolina in and of itself."

Democratic Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro said "the state has spent $8.4 million in taxpayer money defending legislation this body has passed."

Republican Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County suggested the body should take that $8.4 from Attorney General Roy Cooper for "him not doing his job."

You can hear the full debate by clicking the audio above.

Cooper has refused to defend laws he has deemed unconstitutional like HB2 and Amendment One, which banned gay marriage in North Carolina and was struck down by a federal judge.

House Bill 2, among other things, limits protections for the LGBT community and directs transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.  Public and corporate backlash to the law has been severe, costing the state jobs, conferences, business expansions, and concerts.  The NBA is threatening to pull its All-Star game from Charlotte.  Draft legislation that would tweak HB2 would focus only on a portion dealing with the rights of citizens to sue for employment discrimination in state court.  The NBA released a statement Thursday night declaring it was not satisfied with the proposed changes.

Governor McCrory, state Republican leaders, and the US Justice Department have filed dueling lawsuits over HB2.