Tag Archives: federal funding

Details of N.C.’s economic loss over anti-LGBT law

North Carolina’s Republican administration continues to defend its anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2 (HB2), but media outlets have documented the economic harm the law has done to the state, including backlash from the business community and the potential loss of federal funds. 

North Carolina Passed A Law Rescinding LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections.

On March 23, the North Carolina state legislature passed HB2, a “sweeping” law that invalidated local governments’ ability to provide legal protections for LGBT people and limited transgender people’s bathroom access in certain public bathrooms. The law came in response to a local ordinance passed in Charlotte that provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, including allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. [The Charlotte Observer3/23/16]

The Atlantic: After Weeks of Criticism, North Carolina Governor McCrory Is Attempting To “Blunt The Backlash” To Anti-LGBT Law.

On April 12, faced with a pending ACLU lawsuit and in response to weeks of national backlash, NC’s Gov. Pat McCrory issued a “nearly meaningless” executive order clarifying HB2. As The Atlantic noted, “there is no change to the transgender-bathroom conditions,” and it “does not restore cities’ right to establish local non-discrimination ordinances that apply to the private sector.” [The Atlantic, 4/12/16]

North Carolina’s Commerce Secretary “Doesn’t Expect The Legislation To Negatively Impact The State’s Economy.”

In an interview with the Triangle Business Journal, North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary John Skvarla said he doesn’t expect the legislation to negatively impact the state’s economy:

In an interview, he said he has heard from companies “considering their options” but none that expressly decided to leave North Carolina because of the bill, which the LGBT community has decried as discriminatory to transgender people. “I have not had anyone ask any penetrating questions,” Skvarla said.

[…]

On Thursday, Skvarla said he has “not seen a diminution in the pipeline” of companies interested in an investment in North Carolina. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s business as usual,” he said. [Triangle Business Journal4/5/16]

CAP: HB2 Threatens More Than Half Billion Dollars In Economic Activity.

According to a report from the Center for American Progress based on publicly available estimates of the economic impact of lost or at-risk business activity or events, the North Carolina economy could potentially lose out on more than $568 million in private-sector economic activity through 2018. According to the report, the state has already lost out on $86 million and stands to lose upwards of an additional $481 million due to cancelled events, businesses leaving the area, and tourism declines if HB2 is not repealed. [The Center for American Progress4/13/2016]

WSOC TV: Charlotte’s Economy Suffers Due To Four Confirmed And Nine Potential Event Cancellations.

On April 11, local news outlet WSOC TV reported on the economic impact of HB2 in Charlotte:

Charlotte tourism sources told anchor Scott Wickersham on Friday that four groups canceled conventions because of HB2.

Nine were in talks but sources said they decided not to come to Charlotte.

Almost 30 more are on the fence because of HB2.

[…]

For those four confirmed events, there would’ve been more than 1,100 nights booked at hotels.

For the groups considering, that would have been more than 1,200 rooms booked and for the hesitant groups that’s nearly 90,000 rooms now hanging in the balance. [WSOCTV.com, 4/11/16]

Washington Post: Raleigh Stands To Lose Contracts For Multiple Events That Would Bring The Local Economy Millions of Dollars.

An April 12 Washington Post article reported on more economic impacts to the state from HB2:

Officials in the state are already reporting tourism losses and event cancellations due to the law. As of this week, five groups canceled events planned in the Wake County region, which would have brought the local economy more than $732,000, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Another 16 groups were about to sign contracts to hold events and are considering canceling or changing their minds, according to a spokesman for the visitors bureau. These groups could bring a combined 73,000 people and $24 million to the region.

The visitors bureau did not identify these 16 other groups in a report released by Denny Edwards, president and chief executive of the visitors bureau. But the report did say that one of the biggest hits would come if Raleigh lost its chance to host an unspecified sports tournament, one that the bureau said could bring in $4.5 million to the local economy. [The Washington Post4/12/16]

The Atlantic: Bruce Springsteen Cancels His North Carolina To Boycott Anti-LGBT Law.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced that they were cancelling their April 10 show in Greensboro, NC. Over 15,000 tickets had been sold for the show and officials estimated the cancellation resulted in a $100,000 loss at the venue alone:

City officials did not have a dollar estimate for the lost revenue from foot traffic in restaurants, shops and hotels. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said it would be difficult to quantify as some concertgoers could have become repeat visitors to Greensboro.

“We had so many people that would have been able to see Greensboro, many for the first time, and now we won’t have that hotel and restaurant revenue,” she said. “My other concern is that acts we are currently in negotiations with could look at other venues. People we don’t have contracts with can just automatically take us off the list.”

The cancellation also means lost wages for some workers. At the coliseum, several hundred employees were scheduled to work the concert, according to Brown. [The Atlantic, 4/12/16]

The Charlotte Observer: Some High-Profile Sporting Events Have An Uncertain Future In North Carolina.

According to a statement from the NBA, HB2 could affect the likelihood of Charlotte “successfully hosting” the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Other athletic associations have expressed concern over the new law, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the U.S. Golf Association, which conducts the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. [The Charlotte Observer, 3/30/16]

Several Companies Have Canceled Multimillion Dollar Expansion Projects Due To Anti-LGBT Law 

WRAL.com: Citing HB2, PayPal Cancels Planned Expansion In Charlotte. PayPal announced on March 18 that they would open a $3.5 million complex in Charlotte, employing 400 people, and having an annual payroll of about $20.7 million. On April 5, the company retracted its decision, citing the governor signing HB2 into law, stating the new law “perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.” [WRAL.com, 4/5/16]

Associated Press: Drug Company Reconsiders Building $20M Factory In North Carolina Because Of Anti-LGBT Law.

The Associated Press reported on April 10 that “New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said it is ‘reevaluating our options based on the recent, unjust legislation’ whether to build a $20 million manufacturing and research facility in Durham County.” AP further reported that the facility would create 50 new jobs, paying an average salary of nearly $76,000. [Associated Press, 4/10/16]

NY Times: Deutsche Bank Freezes Expansion In North Carolina, Citing HB2 As The Reason For Halting Growth.

The German “financial giant” withdrew plans to expand its technology development center in Cary, NC, which already boasts 900 employees, citing HB2 as the reason for halting its growth. The company planned on spending $9 million on the expansion, creating an additional 250 jobs that were expected to have a total salary package upwards of $21 million annually. [The New York Times, 4/12/16]

North Carolina Could Face Potential Loss Of Federal Funding And Other State Governments’ Spending.

The Washington Post reported on April 4 that at least five federal agencies are in the process of reviewing whether to withhold funds from NC in response to HB2:

The ongoing reviews at the Education, Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services departments are not yet complete, and it is unclear how much federal money might be involved. But the Obama administration’s decision to scrutinize what White House press secretary Josh Earnest described as “both policy and legal questions that are raised by the passage of this law” suggests that the measure signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) last month could have major implications for his state.

Earnest said that “individual agencies are undertaking” the review, and the White House had not issued specific guidance on how to proceed. But he emphasized that President Obama said that “ensuring that individual Americans are not discriminated against because of who they love is something that the president feels strongly about,” and he was not surprised that North Carolina officials “are feeling some pressure” on the issue.

“I can just say that, more generally, this administration is committed to defending and even promoting the equal rights of all Americans, including LGBT Americans,” he added. [The Washington Post, 4/4/16]

 

Subcommittee defeats Tennessee bill to reject Supreme Court ruling, eliminate marriage equality

The Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee this week voted down a measure that would have eliminated marriage equality in the state and required the state to defend marriage as “between one man and one woman” — even if that mean foregoing federal funding.

“As the first vote this year on the nearly 100 anti-LGBT bills being considered across 24 states, this is certainly encouraging news from Tennessee,” said Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign. “We will remain vigilant in case this legislation should resurface in any other form, and continue to work with our local partners to fight other anti-LGBT legislation in the Tennessee Legislature.”

Chris Sanders of Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide LGBT civil rights group, added, “We are grateful that this bill will not be moving this session and remain watchful of any attempts to discriminate against LGBT Tennesseans.”

An analysis by the Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee determined that passage of the bill would have cost the state upwards of $8 billion annually.

The legislation voted down today is part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. At least 100 Anti-LGBT bills are pending in 24 states, including in Wisconsin.

State Republicans seek to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood

About $7.5 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin would be cut under two Republican-backed bills heard by a state Assembly committee on Sept. 2, measures that come as the Legislature also considers criminalizing research on aborted fetal tissue.

Supporters defended the measures as reasonable steps to prevent taxpayer money going to a group that provides abortions. But opponents said halting the funding would adversely affect the women’s health services, including cancer screenings and wellness checks, which comprise 97 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood also provides.

And, they cautioned, the moves may not be legal, setting up the likelihood of a court fight should the bills be passed and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Walker — who has been touting the fact he cut state funding to Planned Parenthood on the presidential campaign trail — has said he supports efforts to curtail federal funding as well.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has voiced his support for both bills and the fetal tissue research ban, saying they are likely to be debated this fall. Support is less clear in the Senate. Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has not said whether the bills will be debated. His spokeswoman Myranda Tanck said the bills will be discussed by Republicans in a closed caucus on Sept. 16.

At least one Republican — Sen. Alberta Darling — has said she opposes the research ban on aborted fetal tissue because it would have a negative effect on work being done at the University of Wisconsin.

One of the bills heard Sept. 2 attempts to prevent Planned Parenthood from being eligible for federal Title X money that is allocated to the state of Wisconsin. It is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $3 million from that grant each year, and is the only recipient in Wisconsin.

“When the money is being used to actively terminate human life, it is in direct conflict with its intended use,” said the bill’s co-sponsor Sen. Chris Kapenga, a Republican from Delafield. He and other anti-choice activists believe that a fertilized egg is the equivalent of a fully developed human.

Rep. Andre Jacque, a Republican from De Pere, introduced the bills in the Assembly.

The proposal will force health care providers that receive funding through the federal program to deny women referrals for abortions, said Eliza Cussen, chairwoman of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, a leading abortion rights advocacy group.

“This bill is the most dangerous bill to abortion rights we have seen in decades,” Cussen said in a statement prior to the hearing.

The other bill targets family planning clinics that receive drugs at a discounted rate through Medicaid. The proposal would require them to bill Medicaid only the actual acquisition cost plus a dispensing fee — a change that would cost Planned Parenthood an estimated $4.5 million a year.

Cutting off federal money for family planning services makes sense because doing that would make it harder for Planned Parenthood to terminate pregnancy, said Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.

“These bills respect the consciences of Wisconsin taxpayers who oppose the use of public funds for abortion,” Sande said in a statement.

There are 22 Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin, three of which perform abortions. Five clinics have closed since the state budget passed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Legislature, and signed by Walker, did away with about $1 million in state funding each year.

Louisiana, Alabama cut Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, possibly violating federal law

Louisiana and Alabama may be violating federal law by ending state Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, federal health officials warned the states this week after both announced they were cutting off the payments.

Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that the federal Medicaid agency notified the states of the possible violation.

“Longstanding Medicaid laws prohibit states from restricting individuals who have coverage through Medicaid from receiving care from a qualified provider,” Griffis said in a statement. “By restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, announced Aug. 3 that his administration was ending provider agreements that reimbursed Planned Parenthood for providing health services to low-income patients through Medicaid.

Republican Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley followed with a similar announcement three days later.

The governors cited secretly recorded videos released by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide aborted fetus tissue for medical research.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, spoke to health agency officials in both states shortly after each announcement, referencing federal law that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to get covered services from any qualified provider.

CMS could withhold federal Medicaid funds to the states if it deems them out of compliance with federal law, and Planned Parenthood has said it is considering a lawsuit in Louisiana. Federal courts have overturned previous attempts in Arizona and Indiana to disqualify Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.

In the South, withholding funding would have the most impact in Louisiana, where more dollars have been paid to Planned Parenthood. Alabama’s Medicaid program has paid Planned Parenthood health clinics in Mobile and Birmingham only about $4,400 over the past two years for contraceptives.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t currently provide abortions in Louisiana, but offers cancer screenings, birth control, gynecology exams, sexually transmitted disease treatment and other health services in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The state had paid more than $287,000 in reimbursements to the organization for such services provided to Medicaid patients in the last budget year, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Neither state has changed its approach to the organization’s clinics since the federal warnings.

Olivia Watkins Hwang, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana health department, cited a state law that allows the termination of any Medicaid provider agreement within 30 days. She said the department doesn’t believe it has violated federal law because other Medicaid providers offer the same services as Planned Parenthood.

But Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana state director for Planned Parenthood, said Jindal’s decision will lessen health services for more than 4,300 Medicaid patients who got care from the organization’s clinics in the state.

Republicans around the country have targeted Planned Parenthood after several videos were released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress.

The center said the videos showed Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood said the organization receives legal payment only for the cost of the procedure and requires a mother’s consent before the tissue is given to researchers.

Update: Evangelical charity reverses decision to hire married gay Christians

UPDATED: The prominent Christian relief agency World Vision said this week it will hire Christians who are in same-sex marriages, a dramatic policy change on one of the most divisive social issues facing religious groups. And then, under pressure from the Christian right, the World Vision board reversed that decision, according to an announcement on March 26.

Earlier, Richard Stearns, president of the international humanitarian relief group, had announced the hiring change for the United States in a letter to staff. Stearns said the World Vision board had prayed for years about how to handle the issue as Christian denominations took different stands on recognizing same-sex relationships.

“The board and I wanted to prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of living and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ,” Stearns wrote in the letter.

The agency’s new hiring policy was first reported by Christianity Today magazine.

Based in Washington state and started by evangelicals, World Vision now has an international operating budget of nearly $1 billion and conducts economic development and emergency relief projects around the world.

Last year, the charity reported receiving 18 percent of its annual funding from the federal government. Federal agencies have for several years faced pressure to require any group that receives federal funding to end any hiring restrictions on gays and lesbians.

Stearns had insisted the humanitarian relief group wasn’t responding to any outside lobbying or concerns about government funding.

“I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue,” Stearns said.

But on March 26, the anti-gay National Organizatin for Marriage announced that World Vision’s board had reversed the policy.

“The Christian view of marriage clearly holds that it is the union of one man and one woman,” said Brian Brown, NOM president. “It was for this reason that many were dismayed earlier this week by the news that World Vision was compromising its stance upon this Biblical value by a new policy that would recognize the validity of ‘marriage’ between same-sex persons. Today’s reversal is cause for celebration and congratulation. World Vision has listened to their supporters and congregations worldwide and chosen to stand by the Christian truth of marriage in spite of what must be immense pressure from the radical same-sex ‘marriage’ lobby.”