Bid to repeal North Carolina’s HB2 ‘bathroom bill’ fails

by WorldTribune Staff, December 22, 2016

Legislation to repeal the HB2 “bathroom bill” was voted down by the North Carolina Senate on Dec. 21.

The Senate voted 32-16 against the repeal effort and then voted by the same margin to adjourn, ending the special session called by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory two days after the Charlotte City Council gutted the ordinance that prompted the state’s General Assembly to pass HB2. The state House also adjourned without voting.

North Carolina state Senate leader Phil Berger speaks during the special session convened on Dec. 21.
North Carolina state Senate leader Phil Berger speaks during the special session convened on Dec. 21.

Included in the repeal legislation was the imposition of a six-month moratorium on local government measures affecting public accommodations and access to restrooms.

Republicans wanted the provision out of concern that cities would enact Charlotte-like measures that could survive under the incoming Democratic administration in the state capital.

Democrats pushed back against the moratorium, calling it only a partial repeal of HB2.

“This wasn’t the deal,” said Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat. “This bill breaks this deal. Charlotte would have not repealed its ordinance if this was the deal.”

According a report by The News & Observer, “at 7:48 a.m., Charlotte City Council officially called a rare emergency meeting. Less than an hour before the state legislature was scheduled to convene, City Council voted 7 to 2 to repeal all of the changes they made to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, including the vendor and contractor nondiscrimination rules that had been left in place. The change was no longer tied to a Dec. 31 deadline, but took effect immediately. The move, in essence, restored Charlotte’s non-discrimination rules to what they had been before February.

“But after more than nine hours of political wrangling between Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature, the repeal effort failed, leaving HB2 in force.”

Senate Speaker Phil Berger suggested that the HB2 repeal efforts be split into two segments: the repeal itself in one vote and then a cooling off period in a separate vote.

After the repeal vote was attempted, Berger suggested sending the bill to rules committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown then tried to have the Senate vote again. His motion was tabled before the body voted to adjourn.

“First, they (Democrats) refused to support a repeal of House Bill 2 that included a cooling-off period on radical bathroom sharing ordinances like the Charlotte ordinance that prompted HB2,” Berger wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 21.

“Then Republicans gave Senate Democrats a straight up or down vote on repealing HB2 in its entirety. All 16 of them voted no.

“Why? Politics. Hypocrisy. And Roy Cooper,” Berger wrote.

“Cooper killed a compromise deal on House Bill 2 a few months ago, so he could continue driving businesses and big events out of North Carolina and keep raising out-of-state special interest money for his campaign. Today, when many Senate Democrats found the proposal reasonable, Cooper pressured them to kill the compromise again,” Berger wrote.

“This should tell you all you need to know about Cooper and Senate Democrats’ motives. They aren’t interested in moving past this issue or protecting the privacy and safety of North Carolina families. They’re brass-knuckled politicians who want to wage a nasty culture war with divisive issues, so they can keep filling their campaign coffers with cash from fringe liberal activists. We long suspected they’re the worst kind of politicians. Today, they proved it.”

Governor-elect Cooper said he was “disappointed” that the legislature “had the chance to do the right thing for North Carolina and they failed.”

“This was our best chance,” he said. “It cannot be our last chance.”

McCrory kept his word and called the special session, but accused Democrats of playing politics by holding back Charlotte from overturning its “overreaching” ordinance earlier.

“The sudden reversal, with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended, sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina,” McCrory said in a video message.

Tami Fitzgerald, NC Values Coalition Executive Director in a statement: “Tonight the North Carolina Senate voted to keep the protections provided by our privacy law, HB2, in place. We continue to encourage our leaders to never sacrifice the privacy, safety, or freedom of young girls by forcing them to use the bathroom, shower, or change clothes with grown men just to satisfy the demands of greedy businesses, immoral sports organizations, or angry mobs.”