Legislators won’t be moving quickly to change House Bill 2 this year, and an “outright repeal” doesn’t have enough support, N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger said this week.
Berger spoke in detail about the controversial LGBT law in an interview with Tim Boyum of Time Warner Cable News that aired Thursday night.
During a special session last month the Senate considered, but didn’t approve, a measure repealing HB2 while also stopping local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances similar to one in Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
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HB2 came in response to the Charlotte ordinance. It blocks local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and requires transgender people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate while in government facilities.
Berger says he won’t be bringing back the compromise bill he proposed during the special session as legislators get to work in Raleigh this month.
“I think the window for that compromise may not be open at this point, and I certainly don’t believe that the votes exist for an outright repeal without anything else,” Berger told TWC News.
That statement puts Berger at odds with Gov. Roy Cooper, who said earlier this month that he sees an opening for another deal to repeal HB2.
“My argument to (Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore) is that there are enough overall votes – even if you don’t have a majority (in the) Republican caucuses – to pass repeal,” Cooper said during an event in Charlotte.
Berger says he doesn’t expect any action on HB2 anytime soon. “I don’t see a pathway in the short term for there to be an addressing of that issue – I think it’s something that’s going to take some time,” he said in the TV interview.
Berger’s office issued a statement Friday afternoon further detailing his position on HB2.
“I’ve explained to Gov. Cooper that it will take compromise on both sides to move past the distraction of HB2 – and that he and his far-left allies must stop trying to force women and young girls to share bathrooms and school locker rooms with men – and I’m encouraged that his response to those concerns is that he wants to work something out,” Berger said in the written statement.
The N.C. Democratic Party, meanwhile, responded to Berger by making the case that an unconditional repeal is possible.
“Between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, there are enough votes for a clean repeal – just as there were in December,” executive director Kimberly Reynolds said in a news release. “After getting us into this mess, Speaker Moore and President Pro Tem Berger should show some leadership for once and put North Carolina first by finally repealing this bill.”
Berger also spoke about the Senate confirmation process for Cooper’s Cabinet nominees; he has not yet released details of how the process will work.
But he explained what Senate Republicans will seek as they decide if they’ll approve the governor’s picks: “The important thing is whether or not they’re able to, if necessary, put aside any political view they had and execute the laws passed by the General Assembly,” Berger told TWC News.