As North Carolina works to defend its anti-transgender HB2 "bathroom bill" in federal court, Republican governor Pat McCrory has quietly allowed half a million dollars to be transferred out of his state's disaster relief fund and put toward HB2's legal fight instead.
According to Raleigh's The News and Observer, McCrory this week quietly waved through HB805, a bill containing provisions that clarify language and minor issues with legislation passed earlier in the year.
Nestled within the bill, however, is a provision that moves $500,000 out of the state’s Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund, and transferred "to the Governor's Office" for the express purpose of funding "costs incurred from litigation related to S.L. 2016-3"—the legislative session during which HB2 was passed.
In other words, North Carolina now has half a million dollars less to fight natural disasters, and half a million more to defend legislative ones.
How did a provision requesting the transfer of half a million dollars away from disaster relief get into the legislation? NC Senate budget chairman, Republican Harry Brown, told WRAL, "The governor asked for it."
According to the University of North Carolina School of Government, a bill sent to the governor’s desk for consideration after the state’s General Assembly has adjourned is automatically passed into law if it is neither signed, nor vetoed within 30 days. That's the mechanism McCrory used with HB805.
When asked why McCrory allowed the bill to pass into law without his signature, the governor's spokesperson told The News and Observer, "The governor would have preferred that the money come from the Attorney General’s budget since that’s who is refusing to do his job."
This spring, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office would decline to defend HB2 in court, calling it a "national embarrassment” that would "set North Carolina's economy back" if it's not repealed. Cooper, a Democrat, is currently challenging McCrory's in the state's upcoming gubernatorial election.
"Even legislative Republicans recognize that the consequences of HB2 have been a disaster,” Cooper’s campaign spokesman, Ford Porter, told The News and Observer. “Unfortunately, Gov. McCrory is more interested in finding new and creative ways to point fingers than in fixing the problem."
Speaking of problems, researchers at North Carolina State University expect the Eastern seaboard to be slammed with a particularly active hurricane season, with anywhere from "15 to 18 tropical storms and hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin" this year.
Sounds like it could be a disaster. Hopefully that missing $500,000 won't be an issue.