House Bill 2 is set to lose North Carolina even more money, despite the law’s repeal.
Netflix’s coming-of-age drama OBX is reportedly pulling production from the Tar Heel State due to fallout from the anti-trans “bathroom bill.” Forced through during an emergency legislative session in March 2016, HB 2 would have cost the state an estimated $3.76 billion over the next 12 years if it remained intact.
The controversial measure was replaced with a “compromise” bill, HB 142, nearly a year after it was originally made law.
But according to Wilmington’s Star News, the streaming service did not feel the replacement legislation differed enough from its predecessor to justify filming in North Carolina. The “sticking point” was reportedly a clause in HB 142 forbidding local municipalities from passing ordinances “excluding them from the bill’s restrictions.”
That language prevents cities and counties from drafting pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances until Dec. 1, 2020—when the provision is set to expire.
In essence, HB 2 will remain in place for two more years.
Creator Jonas Pate claimed there’s still a chance OBX—which is set in the coastal town of Wilmington—could film in North Carolina. Pate told Star News “any effort to move the sunset date up… could convince Netflix to change course.”
“We have a tiny window where this could be pulled out of the fire,” he claimed.
The clock is quickly winding down, however. Netflix has already begun scouting locations in Charleston, South Carolina, despite its creator’s desire to shoot in the location where the show is set. OBX tells the story of a fateful summer, in which a hurricane cuts off power to Wilmington, through the eyes of four local teenagers.
“This show would be a postcard to North Carolina,” Pate concluded, describing it as akin to Stand By Me set in the Outer Banks.
Should North Carolina lose OBX to its neighbors to the south, it would result in an estimated $60 million in economic losses. Pate claimed it would also cost the already embattled state “70 good, clean, pension-paying jobs.”
Although the project has not been announced by Netflix, OBX allegedly plans to film a 10-episode season.
The news is further indication that HB 2 continues to have financial repercussions for North Carolina. Despite an offer of $2.4 billion in economic incentives from the state, Amazon announced its intent to build headquarters in New York City and Arlington, Va. According to the Associated Press, HB 2 was “still causing heartburn” with Amazon leadership.
Although North Carolina had been shortlisted for a new Apple facility, the company announced in December it would be taking 9,000 jobs to Austin instead.
Apple never stated that HB 2 was the reason it chose to open the $1 billion campus in Texas. But in an interview with Raleigh’s News & Observer, insiders euphemistically noted North Carolina’s “uncertain politics” as dissuading the company from doing business with the state.
Charlotte’s tourism board is reportedly spending $2 million in “Post HB2 Marketing/Sales support” to rehab the state’s image during the ongoing fallout.
Whether lawmakers will address this crisis by further compromising on HB 2 remains to be seen. Although Democrats flipped enough seats to break the Republican supermajorities in the State House and Senate, both chambers of the General Assembly remain under conservative control.
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