RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina General Assembly approved a compromise bill Thursday to repeal the controversial restroom law known as HB2.
The legislation now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who already pledged to sign it.
Late Wednesday, North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger worked with State House Speaker Tim Moore, a fellow Republican, to broker a deal with Cooper. Both sides admit the legislation is not perfect but look forward to easing the tension HB2 created.
“This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been discussed and discussed and discussed in North Carolina for a long period of time,” Berger said. “It is something that I think satisfies some people, dissatisfies some people, but it’s a good thing for North Carolina.”
The legislation essentially rolls the clock back to before Charlotte passed its own restroom edict and state lawmakers approved HB2 to block it. But the new bill allows for three key provisions that Republicans and Democrats agreed to live with.
Although it repeals the restroom protections HB2 implemented, the new bill defers regulation of multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities to the General Assembly—which Republicans still control. It also places a moratorium on local ordinances regulating public accommodations or private employment policies. That provision blocks a repeat of what happened in Charlotte until at least Dec. 1, 2020.
Berger said the compromise came after give and take from both sides. It protects restroom safety and privacy for now, he said, and can be strengthened with future legislation.
With Berger’s blessing, the GOP-controlled Senate voted 32-16 in favor of the repeal. Some Democrats voted against the bill because they said it was not a full repeal of HB2 and still allows for discrimination until legislators can agree on new provisions.
Sen. Dan Bishop was the lone Republican to speak on the Senate floor in opposition to the compromise.
“This bill is at best a punt, at worst it is a betrayal of principle,” he said.
The agreement comes at a crucial point. Last week, the NCAA, which already punished the state because of HB2, gave legislators an April 18 deadline to repeal the law or risk losing hosting privileges for championship events until 2022.
LGBT advocacy groups bashed Cooper and North Carolina Republicans for compromising on the bill.
“After more than a year of inaction, today North Carolina lawmakers doubled-down on discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “This new law does not repeal HB2. Instead, it institutes a statewide prohibition on equality by banning non-discrimination protections across North Carolina and fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate. Each and every lawmaker who supported this bill has betrayed the LGBTQ community.”
Several House Republicans joined Democrats to vote against the bill.
Some of HB2’s biggest supporters also decried the compromise. They fear it sends the wrong signal to other states considering restroom protections.
“While this measure does not lead to the violation of the privacy of women and children by allowing the dangerous policies like Charlotte’s to be re-established, it does signal that elected officials are ultimately willing to surrender to the courts and the NCAA on matters of safety and public policy,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Lawmakers who voted for this legislation have no right to complain about activist judges. LGBT groups’ fierce opposition to this compromise is very telling. For the Left, the only compromise they will accept is our total surrender.”
— by Evan Wilt