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Political, ideological tension mark potential HB2 repeal session

Posted December 20, 2016
Updated December 21, 2016

— Lawmakers will return to Raleigh yet again on Wednesday for expected votes that would repeal House Bill 2, the controversial state law limiting LGBT rights.

But some people expressed uncertainty and trepidation Tuesday at whether the fifth special legislation session this year will produce repeal legislation as expected.

"Given what happened last week with Republicans' abuse of power, given what happened with when House Bill 2 was passed, I'm not willing to fully trust anything until I see what's before me and I have the chance to vote on it in that moment," said Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange.

Last week, a special session called to approve an aid package to victims of Hurricane Matthew and mountain wildfires morphed into a second session in which the GOP majority passed legislation curtailing some of incoming Gov. Roy Cooper's appointment powers and another bill putting Republicans in charge of state and county election boards during election years.

House Bill 2 was passed in a one-day emergency session in March in order to nullify a Charlotte ordinance that would have required businesses in the city to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. But the state law also barred the LGBT community from nondiscrimination protections, setting off national criticism that led to canceled concerts, conventions and athletic events.

Earlier attempts to compromise on a repeal failed, and some political observers said the issue played a role in Cooper's defeat of Gov. Pat McCrory, who frequently defended the law.

"All the earlier deals were only rumors, but they also included some type of catch, and Democrats have never been willing to do anything but full repeal," Meyer said.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, said Cooper and his supporters blocked the earlier compromises to help his campaign.

"Why was it not acceptable when the legislature put it out there several months ago? And why did Roy Cooper decide he was against this deal before he was for it? It was political, political, political, political," Woodhouse said. "I think what you see this week happening lays to bare the naked political nature of Roy Cooper and the Charlotte Democrats who wanted this fight for political purposes."

Sources close to the Cooper campaign said Cooper always wanted a full repeal with no strings attached in order to win back business for the state.

The Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to repeal the city's transgender nondiscrimination ordinance if the General Assembly repealed House Bill 2 in full by Dec. 31. The council this summer balked at repealing the ordinance.

"Things are no different now than they were except Roy Cooper won an election," Woodhouse said.

"We didn't put together this agreement," said Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford, the executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina.

Sgro said he just wants to make sure a repeal finally happens.

"I think, if the legislature doesn't follow through, it would be a massive failure of leadership like the state has never seen, and I don't think the business community will tolerate it," he said.

Legislative leaders are working to make sure they have the votes to make the latest special session happen. They're dealing with Christmas week schedules and Republican lawmakers worried about staying in line with their conservative base as they try to obtain a quorum in both the House and the Senate and enough people in favor of a repeal to pass it.

Rallies both for and against HB2 are scheduled at the Legislative Building.

"I don't want to campaign about HB2. It's not what I want to be talking about," Meyer said. "I'd much rather be talking about families and jobs and schools and things that the state should be focusing on. HB2 should have never happened, and it's still a distraction."

13 Comments

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  • Nicolle Leney Dec 21, 2016
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    Republicans have a supermajority right now. Cooper is not going to be able to do anything until the districts are redrawn properly and we have a new election for General Assembly members. The fact that the General Assembly distribution in no way reflects results in any other elections (eg, president was close, governor was close). The General Assembly should be a lot closer to half and half than it is.

  • Judy Loftin Dec 21, 2016
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    Ray, no way

  • Robin Koury Jr Dec 21, 2016
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    As of Right now I Lack Trust in Most of Our Government Officials Republican,Democrat etc,,..So many playing politics with the American People.

  • Ray Rivera Dec 21, 2016
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    Politics 101, 1) Charlotte repeals their "anti discrimination" law; 2) The General Assembly repeals HB2; 3) as soon as Cooper gets in, he or Democrats in the GA will propose a NC STATE ANTI DISCRIMINATION LAW, which, will mimic the Charlotte ANTI DSCRIMINATION LAW... thus,, a sate law essntially doing what the Charlotte politicians and democrats wanted all along. However, the oil iin he ointment will be if he GA does not repeal HB2. Then Cooper has hs wk cut out for him after inauguration. Stand by...

  • Judy Loftin Dec 21, 2016
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    So, Charlotte never wanted transgender to use any bathroom? They only made the law to get cooper elected. All you transgender, go to the bathroom. Of the sex you were born as, or. you may be arrested. You have no protection now. We won after all.

  • Ron Coleman Dec 21, 2016
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    Everyone with an R. You are forgetting conveniently I might ad about the most untrustworthy politician in history and that would be Clinton(D).

  • Paul Gemborys Jr Dec 21, 2016
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    All about a man going into ladies bathrooms, girls lockers and showers

  • Bryan Jeffries Dec 21, 2016
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    Nope. This is about people who are prejudice and ignorant vs. those that are not.

  • John Ragan Dec 21, 2016
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    Mr. Stephenson, a couple of the tidbits for you. The DNC needed NC in the Nov. general election to win the presidential election..how else but to create a controversy where there was none. When offered an opportunity to settle this in May, september the democrats were leading in the national polls, that's a fact. Now in December after the failed media snow job look at the change in attitude in charlotte. Makes you go ...mmmmmmm, or it should

  • John Ragan Dec 21, 2016
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    Who was talking evidence... the charlotte city council was offered the same deal in May and September that they have before them currently. That's a fact, it's also a fact they turned down those opportunities. Doesn't it make you wonder why...or are you leaning so far left you don't see that side of the page

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article121877098.html

    They got "their " governor who do you think bought him for them. Where do you think he was for 18 months before the election. Out of state hunting donations from and recruiting business that would openly make a big deal about HB2. Instead of looking at what hasn't relocated to NC see what has

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