Did Roy Cooper fully understand HB 2?

We already know that when Pat McCrory signed HB 2 last year, he didn’t understand what the hell was in it.

McCrory signed the bill on the same day it passed the General Assembly. But early on March 25, state Sen. Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, sent him an email explaining why the legislature included the additional provisions instead of just striking down the bathroom portion of the Charlotte ordinance. The ordinance would have extended nondiscrimination protections to LGBT individuals.

[…]

The Bishop-McCrory exchange began at 12:36 a.m. on Friday, March 25, when Bishop sent the governor an email with the subject line: “As discussed.”
“Q. Why could the General Assembly not simply reverse the ‘bathroom provision’ of the Charlotte ordinance?” Bishop asked in the email, before providing a seven-paragraph answer.

There’s no defense for McCrory signing a bill he didn’t have a comprehensive understanding of, let alone one as shitty as HB 2. But Cooper has had over a year to fully grasp the bill — he ran on it! — and yet a quote he gave in his press conference yesterday indicates that he might not have fully understood it, either.

But Cooper contends that starting immediately, cities and counties are free to establish certain kinds of rules for their own employees and contractors that HB2 had limited or thrown into doubt.
“Immediately, this HB2 repeal bill allows local governments to set wage and non-discrimination policies for their employees and city contractors,” Cooper said.

HB 2 did specifically prohibit local governments from making “regulations or controls on the contractor’s employment practices or mandate or prohibit the provision of goods, services, or accommodations to any member of the public as a condition of bidding on a contract.contract or a qualification-based selection, except as otherwise required or allowed by State law.” (Before HB 2 — and now that HB 2 has been repealed — the state statute reads this: “A county may not require a private contractor under this section to abide by any restriction that the county could not impose on all employers in the county, such as paying minimum wage or providing paid sick leave to its employees.”)

So, that much is true. But HB 2 did not have anything to do with the way that local governments treat their own employees. Just two months ago, the Raleigh passed an ordinance providing living wages for city employees, raising it to $13.76 an hour. And in November and January, respectively, Wake County and the town of Cary passed parental leave policies for their employees.

This covers nondiscrimination policies as well. “HB2 didn’t prohibit local governments from having nondiscrimination policies in their own hiring,” Carrboro alderman Damon Seils said earlier today. “So that’s not a win with HB142.”

Obviously, the parts of HB 2 that were written by the Chamber of Commerce (according to McCrory) didn’t get as much attention as the ones written by Dan Bishop. But Cooper saying that HB 142 returns to cities the power to govern their own employees however they wish — something they never lost with HB 2 — is misleading, and oversells the (terrible) deal he made with HB 142. Either that, or he never really understood HB 2 in the first place.

(I sent an email to Cooper’s office asking for clarification. I’ll update this when and if I get an answer.)

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