Raleigh, N.C. — Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, told reporters Monday night he would not move forward with his effort to repeal and replace the controversial House Bill 2 unless he could get support from Democratic colleagues and, crucially, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Although Republicans hold super-majorities in the House and the Senate, members of the GOP say no House Bill 2 repeal effort is likely to get enough votes to pass without help from Democrats. Until those votes line up, McGrady said, the bill would sit in the House Rules Committee.
"I don't have a path forward at all if I don't don't get the Democrats with me, and if I were in the minority, I wouldn't move forward without my political leader being on my team. I get that, but he's got to engage," McGrady said.
House Bill 2, which was passed last March, affects LGBT rights and prescribes which bathrooms transgender individuals may use in public buildings.
McGrady filed House Bill 186 last week, garnering bipartisan support and praise from some business leaders. However, the measure faced withering criticism from advocates on either side of the transgender rights debate, and Cooper said he could not support certain aspects of the measure. In particular, the governor pointed to a provision that would allow cities that pass LGBT protection ordinances to have those local laws overridden by citizen-initiated referenda.
Despite getting an offer for a potential compromise from the House minority leader earlier Monday, McGrady said it was Cooper who was keeping the majority of Democrats from signing onto the repeal and replace effort. For his part, Cooper used a news release and video on Sunday to once again point to what he said were flaws in the measure.
The bill was officially introduced on the House floor Monday night and referred to the House Rules Committee. While that committee often hears bills in its own right, it's often used to park controversial measures until leaders are ready to hear them. Sometimes, volatile measures never emerge.
McGrady said he is willing to negotiate over the referendum and other provisions, but the bill was crafted to garner votes from lawmakers with multiple different viewpoints.
"This is like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything fits together in different ways, and you pull out one piece and you create a problem somewhere else," he said.
Asked if there would come a point where he would give up on the bill without support from Democrats, he replied, "Yes. If Gov. Cooper comes out tonight and says he's not changing his position, I don't go to the Rules chair and ask him to move my bill."