Democratic lawmakers proposed new bills Thursday that would not only repeal House Bill 2 but extend LGBT protections, though the measures don’t appear to have bipartisan support in a Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Democratic senators and House members unveiled their bills at a morning news conference. Meanwhile another Democratic lawmaker introduced his own measure for repeal.
The new push to repeal comes as the NCAA is considering venues for championship events for the next six years. Boosters say 131 N.C. cities and schools have submitted bids that could be jeopardized if HB2 is still on the books.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has said the NCAA decisions add a new urgency to repeal of the law, which critics call discriminatory. Republican legislative leaders have said they see little support for full repeal without some form of compromise.
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HB2 overturned a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender with which they identify. For some Republicans, that’s the sticking point.
“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,” House Speaker Tim Moore told the Observer this week. “I don’t see support for a straight repeal.”
But Thursday Democrats reiterated the economic cost of the bill. Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro said lost sporting events had already cost her city $24 million. Further cancellations could cost another $120 million, she said.
“We’re hoping that taking this step we’ll (show) others that North Carolina is a welcoming state that’s open for business,” she said.
Rep. Cecil Brockman, a Guilford County Democrat who has come out as bisexual, introduced his own bill Thursday that would repeal HB2 while raising penalties for sex crimes in bathrooms and locker rooms.
Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Senate GOP Leader Phil Berger, said Senate Republicans typically review House bills only if they pass the House. She said Berger’s position has not changed.
“HB2 would have been long gone if Gov. Cooper had not directed all Senate Democrats to block its repeal,” Berger said in a statement, referring to a December vote. “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.”