State Politics

HB2 repeal urgently needed, Cooper says

Brandishing a front-page headline in The News & Observer on Tuesday morning about the loss of college sports championships, Gov. Roy Cooper said the General Assembly must move quickly to repeal House Bill 2.

“There is an urgency to get House Bill 2 repealed,” Cooper said at a news conference in Raleigh. “... If there was ever a time for bipartisanship it was now, a chance to get this stain off our state, a chance to end discrimination and a chance to bring these hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs back to our state.”

With the legislature back in session and the pressure to get rid of the law that rolled back anti-discrimination protections, Cooper reiterated that the votes are there to repeal HB2 if House and Senate leaders would permit a floor vote. Such a move has been tied up in opposition from Republican caucus members.

“I believe that Sen. (Phil) Berger and Speaker (Tim) Moore want to see House Bill 2 gone,” the governor said, otherwise there would not have been such a push to repeal the bill in December, when the legislature failed to take that action. “... We didn’t get there. That was our best chance, but it cannot be our last chance.”

Cooper said he has been telling businesses considering relocating or expanding in North Carolina that voters have elected a new governor who, unlike his predecessor Pat McCrory, opposes HB2. While he said some businesses are encouraged by that, other insist on the legislature getting rid of the law altogether.

The N.C. Republican Party said Tuesday that Cooper should drop his call for a full repeal and instead propose a compromise on HB2 that GOP legislators can support.

“A simple repeal does not have a possibility of passing this legislature,” executive director Dallas Woodhouse said at a news conference. “It seems to us that it is up to Gov. Cooper ... to put forward something that can pass. If not, he’s just pounding his fist, and he’s helping determine North Carolina’s fate when it comes to the NCAA, the ACC and other issues.”

On Monday, a letter sent to state legislators by the N.C. Sports Association warned that the NCAA could soon block its college sports championships from being held in North Carolina through the next six years, unless HB2 is repealed.

Berger issued a statement in response that said HB2 “would have been long gone if Gov. Cooper had not directed all Senate Democrats to block its repeal, and he is going to have to work toward a compromise that keeps women from being forced to share bathrooms and shower facilities with men to move past this distraction.”

During December’s special session, Cooper encouraged Democrats to vote against the Senate proposal because, he argued, the moratorium provision would have effectively kept parts of HB2 intact. Berger was referring to concerns among HB2 supporters that the law is needed to prevent sexual predators from using transgender protections to enter bathrooms of the opposite sex. HB2 opponents say existing laws would prevent that from happening.

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