North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper continues to express optimism for a future HB2 repeal, despite a dubious Republican response.
This follows the failed repeal attempt in December 2016, in which Charlotte lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise with Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly.
The Senate in December 2016 brought a bill that would remove HB2 from the books, but also institute a six-month moratorium on Charlotte passing a similar anti-discrimination ordinance. The deal – as mediated by Cooper – was that HB2 would be repealed if Charlotte did away with their ordinance.
Charlotte lawmakers partially repealed their nondiscrimination ordinance, removing only the parts referring to bathrooms. This was not enough for conservative lawmakers, who cried foul and said that Charlotte was trying to get around the deal. Despite Charlotte removing all traces of the ordinance thereafter, the deal failed to clear the Senate and HB2 remained on the books.
“I believe H.B. 2 needs to be repealed as soon as possible,” Guilford County Representative Cecil Brockman stated. “The law is discriminatory and has been disastrous for our state from day one. I was disappointed to see the Republicans at the General Assembly betray the repeal deal that was made in December of last year.”
“HB 2 should have never been enacted and repeal attempts should have been successful,” Guilford County Representative Amos Quick III stated.
Cooper has claimed on multiple occasions that the required votes for repeal are present, and that it will require support from both sides of the aisle.
“This is not complicated,” Cooper commented, as quoted in a Charlotte Observer article. “In fact, it’s very simple. Let. Them. Vote.”
Despite Cooper’s optimism, little consensus is apparent in NC legislature. Both sides blame the other, with Democrats blaming Republicans for reneging and Republicans blaming Democrats for trying to preserve the Charlotte ordinance.
HB2 has already cost North Carolina more than $77 million and 1,750 jobs, owing to business pullouts, band tour cancellations, and sports events leaving. Aside from civil rights concerns, the economic losses have been a focal point of HB2 repeal advocates.
“We know that this legislation is taking North Carolina off the list for some companies,” Cooper said in a speech as keynote speaker at a Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce meeting. “We know that it is causing problems in us attracting sporting and other entertainment events. We just need to get it behind us.”
HB2 has also damaged the state’s reputation, resulting in travel advisories being issued by the British Foreign Office for LGBT visitors to North Carolina.
Democratic lawmakers in Guilford County continue to be optimistic about chances for repeal, despite December’s abortive attempt. These legislators felt encouraged by the dialogue preceding the failed repeal, taking it as a sign that compromise was possible.
Despite this attitude, Democrats still call for a complete repeal, frowning on a Republican-required moratorium on further non-discrimination legislature.
“If a deal similar to December comes forward, where the Charlotte City Council repeals their ordinance on the condition of H.B. 2 being repealed, I would be willing to revisit that,” Brockman said. “But the “moratorium” provision that was introduced at the last minute is not acceptable as it effectively keeps H.B. 2 in place for a certain period of time.”
Republican lawmakers could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this month NC Senate Democrats filed a bill that would repeal HB2 and allow nondiscrimination ordinances to be handled by local governments.
President Pro Tempore Senator Phil Berger expressed doubts for this bill, saying that the votes on the Republican side weren’t there.
“I think the window for that compromise may not be open at this point,” Berger commented in a TWC News interview, as quoted in a News & Observer article, “and I certainly don’t believe that the votes exist for an outright repeal without anything else,”
Despite this Guilford County Democrats remain optimistic, echoing Cooper’s sentiments.
“The fact that serious discussion was had at the highest levels affords me hope that a full repeal of HB 2 is near, and I look forward to voting for such,” Quick stated.
“I always remain hopeful that my colleagues want to act in the best interest for North Carolina,” Brockman said. “H.B. 2 has caused so much damage to our economy and reputation that I think any serious leader would know that repeal is necessary. Because of that, I believe there is still a chance for repeal.”