Raleigh, N.C. — After talking behind closed doors for hours Thursday, House Republicans said the prospect of passing legislation to appease some of the concerns with House Bill 2 is slim.
Gov. Pat McCrory met privately Wednesday with Republican lawmakers, urging them to make changes to the controversial law dealing with LGBT rights and governing regulations about the use of bathrooms by transgender people. On Thursday morning, he invited a number of Democratic lawmakers to the Executive Mansion to drum up support for the effort.
"We don't know about any fix," Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, told reporters as he and a scrum of about 35 lawmakers left the mansion. "We are trying to figure out where the discussions are. We want to be informed from any source that can inform us."
While all Senate Democrats – all of whom walked out on the initial House Bill 2 vote – were invited to the meeting, only House Democrats who initially voted for the measure in March were asked to meet.
"There were no specifics discussed, just ideas as has been the case all along," Blue said. "I'd want to see what they're talking about, whether a fix is possible. Certainly, my own position is we ought to undo the mess we made."
McCrory and a handful of House Republicans have pushed lawmakers to roll back or modify at least some of the provisions of that bill before the General Assembly adjourns, which could be as early as Saturday.
While GOP senators have been relatively quiet on the issue and have said outwardly they don't see the need for any changes, some in the House have spent time drafting and recasting a potential fix. Some of those proposals have leaked in recent weeks, spurring speculation, but House leaders insist that no one set of provisions, much less any specific legislative language, has gained enough traction to be considered a consensus proposal.
The NBA came out against one of those leaked proposals on Thursday. The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for Charlotte next February, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has called House Bill 2 discriminatory and said the league could move the game if the law remains on the books.
"We do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature," the league and the Charlotte Hornets said in a joint statement. "We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward."
Members of the House Republican caucus met behind closed doors Thursday afternoon and again Thursday evening to discuss potential changes to House Bill 2. However, many members speaking on background said that there may not be enough GOP votes to carry a fix, which is why McCrory is courting Democrats.
"We talked about pros and cons, but there was never any consensus about what to do at this time," said Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston.
"The only thing that are really being talked about are some tweaks that have been mentioned by the governor, but at this point, it's undetermined," House Speaker Tim Moore said.
After the second caucus meeting Thursday evening, House Majority Leader Mike Hager said there was still no deal.
"We'll see. We've pulled stuff out of the throes of disaster before," said Hager, R-Rutherford, adding that lawmakers wouldn't try to sneak a proposal through late at night if they are able to put one together.
Asked whether Democrats might help pass some sort of change to House Bill 2, Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, the Democratic conference chairman, said that it would be "hard to say. We've got some differences of opinion, so we'll leave it there."
Supporters of the LGBT community say a full repeal of the law is the only answer.
"Stop trying to tinker with false fixes," said Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford. "Stop putting our LGBT community and our entire state in harm's way. It's not going to keep the All-Star Game here. It's not going to fix our reputation."