Politics & Government

After HB2 compromise, GOP legislators want tougher penalties for bathroom trespassing

Berger calls HB2 replacement a compromise that’s good for the state

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, calls the HB2 repeal passed by the Senate on Thursday a compromise that accomplishes a pre-HB2 reset while still protecting North Carolinians.
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Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, calls the HB2 repeal passed by the Senate on Thursday a compromise that accomplishes a pre-HB2 reset while still protecting North Carolinians.

Two Republican legislators say they’ll file bills that would create stiffer punishments for people charged with trespassing in the bathroom of the opposite sex.

Sen. Danny Britt of Lumberton and Rep. Brenden Jones of Tabor City announced their proposal on Facebook shortly after the legislature replaced House Bill 2 last week. Jones filed the House version of the bill on Tuesday.

The new law doesn’t include a provision requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on the birth certificate. The law says that only the state government can set bathroom policies, but it doesn’t specifically address transgender people.

Britt and Jones both voted in favor of the HB2 replacement but say that additional protections for bathroom safety are needed. They note that state law already considers entering an opposite-sex bathroom a second-degree trespassing offense.

“I have joined with Sen. Britt in drafting a bill that strengthens existing law and offers even more protections for everyone in restrooms and changing facilities,” Jones wrote on Facebook. “My bill will do two things: First, it will specifically state it is a second-degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.

“I hope you will support Sen. Britt and me as we pursue passing stronger language to ensure proper punishment of violators.”

Chris Sgro of the LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina criticized the bill and blamed the HB2 replacement for opening the door for such measures.

“It prohibits local governments from protecting LGBT people from discrimination, but allows additional HB2-style transphobic bathroom bills,” Sgro wrote on Facebook. “That’s not compromise, it’s capitulation.”

Several earlier HB2 compromise proposals included a provision for tougher penalties for sex crimes committed in bathrooms.

Gov. Roy Cooper hosted a press conference after signing a compromise bill passed by he General Assembly on Thursday that replaces House Bill 2 but restricts anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties.

Gov. Roy Cooper, along with Democratic Party legislative leaders, in February proposed legislation that included longer minimum prison sentences for people who commit rape or other sex crimes while in a changing facility designated for the opposite sex. The list of crimes in that proposal didn’t include trespassing.

None of the bathroom crime language appeared in the final compromise approved last week.

Equality North Carolina, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the ACLU of North Carolina will hold a press conference outside of the North Carolina General Assembly Building.

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