Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper on Sunday urged Republican lawmakers to return to the negotiating table to work on a repeal to House Bill 2.
"I'm ready to compromise to erase this damaging law. We just need Republicans to come to the table, too," Cooper said in a post on Medium.
A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers on Wednesday filed a measure to repeal large swaths of North Carolina's controversial House Bill 2, the 2016 law that deals with LGBT rights and bathroom use.
The compromise would repeal the current law and replace it with legislation outlining the authority of local governments to pass and enforce nondiscrimination ordinances, requiring a referendum for those ordinances in cases of substantial opposition to them, and limiting what restrooms local governments can oversee. It also adds stiffer penalties for crimes committed in restrooms and changing facilities.
Cooper, a Democrat, took issue with the provision that would allow opponents of nondiscrimination ordinances to collect signatures to put the ordinances up for a vote in a referendum election.
"It subjects the rights of the minority to a vote of the majority. It would be like putting the Civil Rights Act to a popular vote in cities in the South during the 1960s. Except today, it would come with the perils of modern campaigns," Cooper said in the Medium post.
Cooper suggested that city councils should be required to approve the ordinances by majority-plus-one votes instead.
Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, one of the Democrats who initially backed the effort, said Friday that he would no longer co-sponsor the bill amid behind-the-scenes lobbying over the repeal effort.
The governor's remarks drew an online rebuke from Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, the primary sponsor the compromise legislation. He took to Twitter and Facebook to call Cooper's remarks "outrageous" and accused him of making decisions based on political calculus. McGrady said he and the governor have spoken several times over the weekend.
"His senior staff told me a week ago that his political advisers strongly urged him not to compromise at all because the political issue would help Democrats in the 2018 election. So, has he decided to listen to them and not do what is right for the state?" McGrady said in his Facebook post.
He also noted that his bill had garnered the backing of realtors, tourism officials, business executives and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"If my bill is good enough for all these groups and answers his questions, why isn't it good enough for the governor? Who is he listening to?" McGrady wrote.