North Carolina lawmakers pass repeal of bathroom bill

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to repeal the state’s controversial bathroom law with a 70-48 vote.

The bill, which the State Senate passed earlier in the day, now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature. Cooper has said he supports the repeal bill.

Late Wednesday night, North Carolina lawmakers and the governor reached an agreement to repeal the the bill, HB2.

But LGBT groups immediately criticized the deal, saying it was a “repeal” in name only with one advocate calling it “HB2.0,” and fails to protect transgender people from discrimination.

HB2 not only forbids transgender people from using restrooms they identify with in government facilities, it also prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances such as the one in Charlotte that inspired it.

The passage of the bill last year triggered a massive outcry and prompted businesses, entertainers and sports leagues to boycott the state. The law is estimated to have cost the state millions through the loss of jobs, businesses and consumer spending.

The NCAA relocated several college athletic championship events for the 2016-17 season over the bill and implied four more years of tournaments are at stake if the law stands.

After much turmoil over the law, Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor struck an agreement Wednesday that would repeal HB2.

But it also leaves regulation of bathrooms solely in control of the state, meaning cities and local governments can’t pass their own anti-discrimination bill until December 2020.

“l support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.”

The agreement includes a repeal of HB2; regulation of multi-occupancy facilities falls under state’s control; and local governments can’t pass their own ordinances.

“Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy,” State Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement.

But groups immediately slammed the new law and began urging North Carolina lawmakers not to support the measure.

The Human Rights Campaign tweeted: “Any NC lawmaker who supports this bad #HB2 “deal” is no ally of LGBTQ people & will have planted themselves on the wrong side of history.”

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, called the agreement a “shell piece of a legislation,” in which the LGBTQ groups had not been consulted.

“The initiative is not a repeal,” he said. “It’s doubling down on the discrimination that HB2 exacts — it’s HB2.0. It doesn’t allow municipalities to protect people from discrimination to 2020.

“It doesn’t do anything to better the lives of LGBT North Carolinians.”