State Politics

Republicans ‘have broken their word’ on HB2, Roy Cooper says

Cooper on HB2: 'Today, the legislature had the chance to do the right thing for NC and they failed'

North Carolina Gov.-elect Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference at PNC Arena following a decision in the NC Senate to vote down the repeal of HB2 on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 in Raleigh.
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North Carolina Gov.-elect Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference at PNC Arena following a decision in the NC Senate to vote down the repeal of HB2 on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 in Raleigh.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper slammed the legislature’s failure to repeal House Bill 2 Wednesday, saying Republican leaders broke their promise to push a full repeal with no strings attached.

A visibly angry Cooper addressed reporters shortly after the legislature adjourned Wednesday evening without taking action. He said he and his staff had been working hard to broker a deal in which Charlotte’s city council would repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance and the legislature would fully repeal HB2.

“Republican legislative leaders have broken their word to me, and they have broken their trust with the people of North Carolina,” he said.

But Senate leader Phil Berger blamed Cooper for the failed deal, noting that the governor-elect had personally contacted Senate Democrats and urged them to oppose Senate Bill 4, which would have repealed HB2 but placed a moratorium preventing local governments from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances similar to Charlotte’s.

Berger said the moratorium provision was added because the Charlotte City Council initially didn’t repeal the entire nondiscrimination ordinance – although it later did so – and he didn’t trust city leaders to keep their word and avoid pressure to reinstate the ordinance.

NC Sen. Phil Berger, Republican President Pro Tempore, expresses his frustration over the failure to pass a bipartisan bill that would repeal House Bill 2 while answering questions from the press following the North Carolina General Assembly’s fif

Cooper confirmed Berger’s assertion that he’d lobbied against the Senate’s version of the repeal bill.

“I told the Democrats to vote for the deal, to fully repeal House Bill 2,” he said. “I told them to stick to this deal.

“This moratorium idea that sprung up in the last couple hours, it wouldn’t work, it doubles down on discrimination.”

Cooper said the deal to repeal HB2 came together in the past “week and a half” with input from the NCAA, NBA and businesses who oppose the law. He also had “multiple conversations” with Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in which they agreed to full repeal, he said.

N.C. Gov.-elect, Roy Cooper talks about the General Assembly's failure to repeal HB2 in an exclusive interview.

“I know there were enough Democratic and Republican votes in both the House and Senate to repeal House Bill 2,” Cooper said.

Democrats voted against the bill because of the moratorium provision, and numerous Republicans voted against it because they wanted to keep HB2 intact. “Their caucus buckled on them,” Cooper said.

Cooper says he’ll continue to push for the repeal of HB2. “This is too important,” he said. “This is not the kind of state we are.”

And the governor-elect said he’ll still push for the sports leagues to return events to North Carolina. “I’m going to try to get the ACC and the NCAA and try to get them to come to North Carolina anyway. I’m going to recruit businesses anyway.”

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