“Gov. Cooper should stop playing political games, stop trying to please special interest groups and stop attempting to sabotage legislative efforts to find consensus on both sides of the aisle and among the business community,” Moore said in a statement his office released. “This effort takes careful compromise, and House Bill 186 is a real solution that actually addresses conflicts with House Bill 2, finds common ground across stakeholder communities and fully protects the privacy and safety of North Carolinians.”
HB 186 was filed last week by a mix of Republican and Democratic House members. It would repeal HB2 and allow cities and counties to adopt their own anti-discrimination protections, as Charlotte did a year ago in allowing people to use the public restroom that fits their gender identity rather than their sex at birth – before HB2 blocked that law. Under HB 186, however, local governments would not be able to extend anti-discrimination protections to privately owned restrooms, only to city-run facilities.
The new bill would allow opponents of extended protections to vote on them through referendum elections if they collect enough voter signatures. Cooper issued a statement and video on Sunday opposing the referendum provision, saying that would prolong the HB2 debate with political campaigning in every referendum, continuing to damage the state’s image, and would be akin to putting the Civil Rights Act on the ballot in Southern states in the 1960s.
Moore on Monday said the referendum provision was copied from the charters of Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville and others.
“Why is Gov. Cooper trying to distort a commonsense provision that would provide a check on the city of Charlotte that avoids our state going through this issue again?” Moore said.
Moore said Cooper has been trying to talk Democrats out of supporting the bill. One such member, Rep. Rodney Moore of Mecklenburg County, announced Friday that he would no longer support the bill that he co-sponsored because he said Speaker Moore won’t budge on his support for including a referendum provision.
Cooper on Sunday said the new legislation does not have sufficient support to succeed, a reference to the fact that most Democrats in the House will not go along with it unless further compromises are made.
“Governor Cooper is committed to working with anyone to repeal HB2, but he’s been clear about his concerns that HB186 won’t get the job done to restore our reputation,” Cooper spokesman Sadie Weiner said Friday.
Sponsors of HB 186 touted it as a breakthrough compromise last week. It prompted a number of business organizations to laud it as a sign of progress. On Monday, GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, echoed those sentiments:
“GSK is supportive of the bipartisan effort. Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace is core to our values, and we seek to strengthen our community and our state’s competitive business ecosystem. We strongly encourage our state legislative and political leaders to continue to work towards agreement on this critical issue.”
John Kane, chairman of the board of the 11-county regional economic development agency Research Triangle Regional Partnership, also issued a statement supporting the bipartisan efforts regarding HB2.
“We are very encouraged to see the General Assembly working on this important legislation. Addressing the HB2 law in a way that aids our efforts to bring jobs to our region is enthusiastically welcomed. There is no question that this issue has had an impact on our state, and now is the time to find a replacement that removes this topic from constant debate.”