Politics & Government

Sen. Richard Burr: HB2 ‘too expansive’


Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr told The Huffington Post that North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers went too far when they passed House Bill 2, and need to rein it in before a judge does it for them.

“Yeah, I’ve got issues,” Burr said after The Huffington Post asked him if he had problems with the law known as HB2.

“The legislature botched what they were trying to do,” he said. “It was far too expansive.”

Burr’s remarks were his first publicly critical comments on the law that has resulted in economic losses, celebrity boycotts and dueling lawsuits with the federal government.

The law, signed in March, bars transgender people from using bathrooms in public facilities that match their gender identity, and it prevents municipalities from passing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances. Cities like Charlotte and Raleigh had such ordinances in place before HB2. They are now invalid.

Earlier this month, Burr told the Observer that GOP lawmakers should take seriously a federal deadline to address the law or implicitly face a loss of federal money. “There’s over $1 billion in education dollars there, so I hope the General Assembly will strongly consider what their next step is to understand the financial implications,” Burr said at the time.

Burr has largely avoided talking about the controversial law. He has said he was out of the country when it passed and called it a state issue.

On Tuesday, he also predicted that the law will be changed, and it’s just a question of who does it.

“It will be decided one of two ways: through the courts, where everybody’s chosen to place it now, or the General Assembly and the Charlotte City Council getting together and solving what was blundered on both sides,” Burr told the Post.

The campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross said Burr’s decision to speak out on the bill came a day after a survey by Public Policy Polling showed only 35 percent of North Carolina voters back the bill, while 44 percent oppose it.

“Now that he thinks it’s hurting his re-election chances, he’s changing his tune,” Ross spokesman Cole Leiter said. “Burr’s Washington-style politics of self-interest haven’t worked for North Carolina, and it’s time for a change.”

North Carolina repealed HB2 in 2017 but left intact some of its provisions. But with Charlotte’s reputation tainted, the city is still paying to market itself to visitors.