Despite an apparent deadline for losing dozens of NCAA events, Republicans and Democrats aren’t budging on the possible repeal of House Bill 2.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said Tuesday there’s no support to repeal House Bill 2 entirely. His comments came after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said there’s a new urgency for repeal.
Cooper wants the law repealed with no strings attached.
“If there was ever a time for bipartisanship it was now, a chance to get this stain off our state, a chance to end discrimination and a chance to bring these hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs back to our state,” Cooper told a news conference.
The law known as HB2 rolled back a Charlotte ordinance that expanded anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community. It also required transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender on their birth certificate when they’re in government-owned buildings.
Supporters say the law is necessary to keep sexual predators out of public restrooms.
On Monday, a leading sports booster sent lawmakers a letter saying the state “is on the brink” of losing NCAA events for six years. Scott Dupree of the N.C. Sports Association said NCAA committees are deciding this month where to hold events through 2022, including basketball tournament games in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
He said N.C. cities and schools have submitted 133 bids for NCAA events with a potential economic impact of $250 million. “In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses,” he wrote.
But Moore and other Republicans said a simple repeal won’t pass the GOP-controlled legislature.
“The thing we’ve made clear is we’re not going to do anything that risks the safety of individuals in bathrooms or locker rooms,” he told the Observer. “I don’t see support for a straight repeal.”
Earlier, state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes of Concord told reporters that Cooper “owns this issue.”
“Gov. Cooper, you are our leader, bring forth a compromise to solve this problem,” he said. “A simple repeal is not going to pass.”
In December, a repeal effort failed when a bill sponsored by GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger failed. The measure would have repealed HB2 while enacting a six-month moratorium on ordinances such as Charlotte’s that prompted the law. Cooper urged Democratic senators to oppose the bill, saying the moratorium was not part of a deal he’d reached with GOP leaders.
“This is on the legislature,” said Ken Eudy, a senior adviser to Cooper. “This is not on Gov. Cooper. Gov. Cooper delivered on what he agreed to do. … The question is, will the leadership have the courage to bring the bill to the floor if they don’t have a majority of their (party) caucus? Will they have the backbone to be bipartisan?”
Republicans say it will take compromise on both sides.
“There will be no compromise on the bathroom piece,” said Sen. Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw. “Public safety is No. 1.”
And Berger released a statement that said HB2 “would have been long gone if Gov. Cooper had not directed all Senate Democrats to block its repeal, and he is going to have to work toward a compromise that keeps women from being forced to share bathrooms and shower facilities with men to move past this distraction.”
Craig Jarvis of the (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.