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By Matt Dixon
TALLAHASSEE — In his new role, a former longtime Florida Chamber of Commerce official has blasted a controversial North Carolina law that has drawn boycotts from companies and conventions across the county.
The bill signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory the same day it passed the General Assembly overturns a Charlotte ordinance that allowed people to use bathrooms based on the gender they identify with rather their gender at birth. It also limited cities from making tougher ordinances beyond baseline laws established in state law.
“We have an economic development function here at the chamber, so we are in constant competition for companies who want to relocate to the area,” said Tim Giuliani, who spent a decade with Florida chamber organizations before becoming president and CEO of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce last year.
“It became apparent pretty quickly that the best thing that could be done is to repeal this law,” he said.
Giuliani served two stints as leader of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and served as the Florida Chamber of Commerce vice president of corporate outreach and engagement for more than two years.
Giuliani explained his group’s opposition in an email Tuesday to his 2,200 members.
The message included a list of entities that have boycotted the state after passage of the law, including the cancelation of proposed expansions from Pay Pal and Deutsch Bank, the NCAA canceling events, and the potential loss of up to $15.3 million loss for Charlotte hotels.
The bill has received national backlash, while supporters say it helps protect women from having to use public restrooms with biological males. The statewide North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has not taken an official position on the bill.
In 2015, legislation that would have required people to use public restrooms aligned with their gender at birth did not pass the Florida Legislature. Amid heated protest, the bill passed two committees before being blocked in the House Judiciary Committee.