Where Mecklenburg legislators stand on HB2 repeal

With a potential new HB2 repeal compromise emerging soon, we wanted to know where Mecklenburg legislators stand on HB2 repeal, and specifically Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed compromise.
With a potential new HB2 repeal compromise emerging soon, we wanted to know where Mecklenburg legislators stand on HB2 repeal, and specifically Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed compromise. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

N.C. legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper continue to work on a possible HB2 repeal compromise. We hear a new plan could be floated anytime now.

Cooper presented a repeal compromise last week in which HB2 would be repealed, the state would impose tougher penalties for crimes in bathrooms and locker rooms, and local governments would have to provide 30-day notice before voting on any new anti-discrimination ordinances. That seemed reasonable to us, because it gave something to all sides and addressed the two biggest concerns of HB2 supporters.

Cooper’s proposal hasn’t gone anywhere, though, and we wanted Observer readers to hear directly from Mecklenburg’s legislative delegation where each of them stood. We asked the 17 members of Mecklenburg’s delegation whether they would support Cooper’s proposal and, if not, what their proposed compromise would be.

Here’s how each responded:

Rep. Kelly Alexander, D: “I think the Governor’s proposals are a step in the right direction. What’s blocking a compromise, in my opinion, is a GOP caucus rule that requires a majority of their caucus to support any compromise. This gives those who oppose compromise a great deal of power to maintain the status quo. It only takes about 20 GOP representatives joining with the Democratic members to repeal HB2. HB2 is an economic albatross around the necks of North Carolinians. It needs to be repealed.”

Rep. John Autry, D: “I am one of four primary sponsors of HB82. HB82 repeals HB2 entirely. It also establishes anti-discrimination protections statewide. Some parts of the Governor’s HB107 compromise give me pause, but if it came to the floor I could vote for it in its current form.”

Rep. Chaz Beasley, D: “I’m proud to be a cosponsor of HB82, a bill that would fully repeal HB2 and add much needed statewide protections for all North Carolinians. I’m glad Governor Cooper continues his good faith attempts to do all he can to completely repeal HB2. I hope that Republican leadership in the General Assembly will similarly act in good faith and allow a full repeal bill to receive a vote on the floor.”

Rep. Mary Belk, D: “I will support the Governor’s compromise proposal, if accepted by the GOP leadership. Repealing HB2 to repair the damage done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy should be our first priority.

“I personally think that our existing laws already protect all citizens of North Carolina from harassment in public restrooms or locker rooms. However, I acknowledge the safety concerns of my fellow lawmakers who support HB2 and, in the spirit of compromise, I will support the Governor’s plan if it is brought up for a vote in the House.”

Rep. John Bradford, R: No response.

Rep. Bill Brawley, R: “I appreciate that Governor Copper was willing to propose a bill which drew criticism from some of his base support groups. It gives me hope that negotiations towards a compromise which will protect the safety and privacy of all North Carolinians and which can gain support in the Legislature may be possible. As such negotiations must be held in confidence, I decline to disclose any positions which I hold.”

Rep. Becky Carney, D: “Yes, I support Governor Cooper’s HB2 compromise. I will continue to support the repeal of HB2. The issue needs to be resolved as the fallout continues to impact our economy in a negative way. The legislature together needs to find a solution.”

Rep. Carla Cunningham, D: No response.

Rep. Andy Dulin, R: “Work is continuing here in Raleigh on a true compromise that will protect families and privacy. At this time that is all I am able to comment on. Thank you for the continued attention that you are giving to the HB2 issue.”

Rep. Beverly Earle, D: No response.

Rep. Rodney Moore, D: No response.

Rep. Scott Stone, R: No response.

Sen. Dan Bishop, R: “I do not support Gov. Cooper’s latest proposal because it implies that everyone must (accept male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms). Trampling on privacy rights in this fashion remains an idea that 73 percent of North Carolinians reject, according to recent polling.

“A large number of Democratic members have proposed companion, House/Senate bills that also call for ending privacy on the basis of physiological sex in showers, dormitories and the like. They also envision broad, undefined new categories of protected people and very robust new avenues of litigation and administrative investigations and penalties. I am interested in creating a statewide mechanism with many of these provisions (I would omit the parts about lots of new lawsuits against grade schools) to be operated on a voluntary opt-in basis in parallel to our existing framework of laws. That would afford the businesses whose leaders believe such measures will contribute to economic growth an opportunity to lead the way in building a new regulatory paradigm.

“Many ideas are being discussed for moving past the controversy. I believe that they are likeliest to bear fruit if discussion is kept low key and out of dishonest media.”

Sen. Joel Ford, D: “I support the Governor’s efforts to repeal HB2 and think he made a realistic proposal to the GOP controlled Legislature. I applaud the Governor’s effort to get rid of HB2 because of the economic and reputational damage it has done to North Carolina. I will support any effort by the Governor that removes this legislation, that stops the economic bleeding and provides respect and dignity for every human being.”

Sen. Jeff Jackson, D: “I would support Gov. Cooper’s compromise.”

Sen. Jeff Tarte, R: “I appreciate the Governor’s thoughts, but it is not a compromise. It only satisfies one side’s needs. HB2 as a brand is toxic. It needs to go away, but we cannot sacrifice the right to privacy and safety for our citizens. Any solution to HB2 needs to be forthcoming soon, as well as balance the ability to eliminate discrimination, insure the right to privacy in public facilities, and accommodate strongly held religious beliefs for North Carolina citizens.”

Sen. Joyce Waddell, D: “Governor Cooper’s proposal takes discrimination off the books and goes further to address concerns from Republicans by establishing tougher penalties for assaults in public facilities and offers a more comprehensive approach to vetting local nondiscrimination ordinances. Sports recruiters and business leaders have spoken in support of the Governor’s bill. It puts HB 2 behind us, and that’s something that everyone should support.”