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Berger says HB2 won't be repealed

Posted April 20

— Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger vowed Wednesday that a new law that sets discrimination policy statewide will remain in place despite growing cries from the business community and others to repeal it.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 2 last month in a one-day special session. The measure requires people to use the public bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate, excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections and bar cities and counties from extending such protections to them. It also prohibits cities from setting their own minimum wage and eliminates the right of people to sue for job discrimination in state court.

Since its passage, companies have pulled back on plans for expansions in North Carolina, performers have canceled concerts, the NBA is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte and the United Kingdom has issued a travel advisory to LGBT citizens who might visit the state.

House Bill 2 At a glance: Economic impacts of HB2

"My job is not to give into the demands of multimillionaire celebrities pushing a pet social agenda, liberal newspapers like The New York Times or big corporations who have every freedom to set whatever policies this wish under this law," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "My job is to listen to the people who elected us to represent them, and the vast majority of North Carolinians we've heard from understand and support this reasonable, common-sense law.

"We are not going to do anything that makes it easier for grown men to get into showers, locker facilities and bathroom facilities that are occupied by women and girls," he continued.

He criticized the backlash against the law, saying it has been slanted and not based in fact. He said businesses can still set their own policies for bathroom access without any local mandates, and schools can accommodate transgender students as needed.

The discrimination policies in the law are stronger than those of the federal government, he said, adding that it "essentially preserves what was the status quo" throughout much of the state. Businesses and nonprofits can set even stronger policies if they want, he said.

FBI statistics show no hate crimes based on gender identity were reported in North Carolina in 2014, the most recent year available, Berger said.

"It seems like the Charlotte ordinance was a solution in search of a problem," he said, referring to an ordinance the Charlotte City Council passed in February that was negated by the bathroom provision of House Bill 2.

Meanwhile, he said, there are many cases where men have been found in women's bathrooms or locker rooms.

Berger said he isn't fazed by the "troubling" decision Tuesday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled a Virginia school district's rule against a transgender boy using the boys' bathroom at his high school is discriminatory. He noted the ruling merely sent the case back to a lower court for trial and "is not even the last word in that case."

Budget, teacher raises on lawmakers' agenda

He made his comments during a news conference to discuss priorities during the 2016 legislative session, which starts next week.

The primary focus will be adjusting the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July, he said. State revenue is above projections, and he said lawmakers would look to approve a "responsible budget" that increases spending up to 2 percent.

Lawmakers also will likely continue tax reform and regulatory reform efforts of recent years, he said. Rather than adjusting income tax rates or expanding sales taxes to some services, however, he expects the primary change will be an increase in the standard deduction on income tax returns, such as from $15,000 to $17,500 for couples filing jointly.

More teacher pay raises are also on the agenda, Berger said, but no details have been discussed.

"I think Gov. McCrory has actually set the right marker for us to have as a goal getting average teacher pay to $50,000," he said. "It's a goal we will start working on during this short session."

He was more hesitant on raises for state workers, saying lawmakers have to see how much money is available and noting that the Senate has been loathe to approve across-the-board pay increases.

Berger said he spoke with House Speaker Tim Moore on Tuesday to ensure their priorities jibe, which could speed the session. Last year, lawmakers didn't approve a budget until late August and didn't adjourn until September.

"My hope is that we will finish in time for everyone to enjoy fireworks that don't involve this building," he said.

31 Comments

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  • Sam Nada Apr 21, 3:40 p.m.
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    First read this:

    http://www.politifact.com/north-carolina/statements/2016/apr/08/dan-forest/nc-lt-gov-dan-forest-says-new-state-law-hb2-preven/

    Second, if the Charlotte ordinance did need adjustment then why not work on adjusting it, rather than lobby the GA for a law that specifically removes all legal protection from discrimination for the LGBT folks? 100's of other communities have seen a need for ordinances like Charlotte's. No other state has reacted with a HB2 type law. The GOP politicians are lying. HB2 was not about safety, or privacy, it's about everything else that's in HB2. It's a political charade, pandering to the extreme right, and it will be repealed.

  • Chad Johnson Apr 21, 3:11 p.m.
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    Good. Don't give in!!!!

  • Tripp Weiland Apr 21, 3:08 p.m.
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    Steve, I have enjoyed you open mindedness to admit HB-2 is wrong. I have been looking into the Charlotte ordinance and the claims you make about it. Unfortunately a lot of the points you have been making have been disproven as false.

    http://www.politifact.com/north-carolina/statements/2016/apr/08/dan-forest/nc-lt-gov-dan-forest-says-new-state-law-hb2-preven/

  • Wayne Rossignol Apr 21, 3:03 p.m.
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    He to be repealed. This man is a prime example of a pure ignoramus. What goes around comes around...he has children. Sometime we have to wait for "comes around" piece, but it certainly will. So nice to have the economy of the state spiral into the depths caused by a few IMBECILES. SHAMEFUL

  • Fanny Chmelar Apr 21, 2:46 p.m.
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    Are you proud of them spending your tax money defending laws they put in place that are clearly unconstitutional? Is that why you voted for them? If so, stay home in November. You're not an American. You're some tool for the right-wing elitists who take your power and your money and you willingly let them do it.

  • Terry Lightfoot Apr 21, 2:33 p.m.
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    Berger says: "My job is to listen to the people who elected us to represent them, and the vast majority of North Carolinians we've heard from understand and support this reasonable, common-sense law.
    Berger - who is this VAST MAJORITY OF NC Citizens? Ohh the media must be to blame - right? Your job WAS to listen to the LGBT community which is a part of NC before passing a law that tramples their rights and tramples local control of all NC cities and towns.
    HB2 WILL be overturned.

  • Terry Lightfoot Apr 21, 2:27 p.m.
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    Charlotte didn't 'force' NC legislature to do anything. GA decided to stick it to Charlotte for passing this law cause they were still hurting from the same sex marriage ruling from the Supreme Court and these Repubs want to be re-elected by their right wing voters. Political patronage.

  • Steve Clark Apr 21, 1:46 p.m.
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    Sam, i was referring to the original Charlotte ordinance. I think HB2 went way too far.. but this was all started by the LGBT community.. there was no 'problem'.. but they forced a 'solution' that was ill-defined and unenforceable.. and forced the state legislature to get involved... again.. HB2 went Way too far, but Charlotte had to be overturned, as it allowed and provided the legal defense for ANY Straight Man to change clothes in the girls locker room..

  • Sam Nada Apr 21, 1:23 p.m.
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    The LGBT community "orchestrated" and "forced" the NCGA to eliminate their own legal protection from discrimination? The right wing politicians did something really stupid, but it's the left's fault for making them panic and lose their heads. But for some odd reason Berger thinks the law is perfect. Do you even believe you're own nonsense?

  • Steve Clark Apr 21, 12:27 p.m.
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    HD, you don't think... for just a minute... that it was the Liberals that orchestrated all this? The LGBT community.. asking for a 'special law' that was clearly not needed (due to the utter absence of any crime against LGBT's in locker rooms or bathrooms) ... but refusing to identify "Which" man with a penis is allowed in the girls locker room...

    It Forced the legislature to come out against it. They went too far with HB2, but overturning Charlotte's poorly written (no definition of which person with a penis is granted access to women's locker rooms), and unenforceable (who is supposed to decide with 'girl' is allowed in the locker room) law... supporting HB2 and opposing Charlotte are two different things... but.. no one seems to actually care about the the details..

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