Legislation and Lobbying

Despite attempted compromise, bill to repeal North Carolina's bathroom law fails

Bathroom sign.

A repeal of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” law regarding which public restrooms people who are transgender may use was blocked Wednesday by the state senate, after politicians could not come to an agreement.

The law, known as House Bill 2, has cost the state a significant amount of money in lost jobs and business boycotts, the News & Observer reports.

North Carolina’s outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory called a special legislative session earlier this week to consider repeal of the bill, which he had signed into law in March 2016. The call for the repeal followed the Charlotte City Council agreeing to rescind an ordinance that stated people could choose restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. Roy Cooper, a Democrat who serves as the state’s attorney general and is its governor-elect, reportedly told the the city council that in exchange for rescinding the ordinance, state law makers would pass a full repeal of HB2.

Then Senate Republicans added a moratorium on future city ordinances until the end of 2017, and the deal fell apart, the Greensboro News & Record reports. The senators reportedly felt that Charlotte misled them by only repealing part of its ordinance. The Charlotte City Council held an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to repeal the entire ordinance. But the state senate voted 32 to 16 against the repeal of HB2.

“We were told several days ago Charlotte had fully repealed. There’s no way this was a technicality at all. This was the worst political stunt I’ve ever seen. It’s put everybody in Charlotte and the state of North Carolina in jeopardy and I’m sick and tired of it,” said Andrew Brock, a Republican state senator.

“I’m sorry, this was not the deal,” said Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte to the News & Observer. “The deal was Charlotte repeals fully and we repeal fully. Charlotte was told over and over again: Charlotte, if you take the first step you will be met halfway. Charlotte did that and we’re being shoved away one more time.”

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican, said that Cooper, a former state senator, urged other Democrats to vote against the repeal.

“I think Roy Cooper tried to do everything he could to sabotage a reasonable compromise,” Berger told reporters after a nine-hour session Wednesday.

Cooper denies this, and claims that Republicans were responsible for the repeal failure.

“I told (Democratic legislators) to stick to this deal. What (Republicans) were trying to do was tack on something that wouldn’t work,” he said. “They didn’t have the guts to put the (repeal) bill out on the floor by itself.”

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