NC legislators say they have deal “in principle” on HB2

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina General Assembly leaders announced Tuesday evening that they had agreed “in principle” to a proposal to repeal House Bill 2 that was made by Governor Roy Cooper last week.

In a news conference Tuesday, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said that Cooper made a four-point proposal on Thursday that General Assembly leaders agreed to.

However, later in the Tuesday evening news conference, Berger said that Cooper denied some items in the proposal.

“We called the governor on the way down here. You noticed we were a few minutes late to let him know that we agreed to his proposal in principle. He now denies that he ever made the proposal,” Berger said.

And shortly after the press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a release calling the Republicans’ behavior “frustrating” and saying that one of the provisions of their proposal remains a deal breaker.

The Tuesday evening news conference about House Bill 2 came just hours after it was learned the NCAA gave the state an ultimatum about future sporting events.

Berger said that they had talked to Cooper just before the news conference.

According to the Republican leaders the four points are:

  • repeal HB2
  • leave regulation of multi-occupancy bathroom and shower facilities to the state
  • allow local governments to pass employment and accommodation non-discrimination ordinances that are in line with federal non-discrimination law
  • allow plaintiffs to collect court costs and attorney fees if they successfully sue governments for taking actions which violate their rights of conscience to exercise religious freedom.

They also included a document which they said was Cooper’s initial proposal, which included an email chain that contained the name of William McKinney, Cooper’s general counsel.

“The way we understood it was that this was going to be a bipartisan proposal. So, if that’s not the case, that’s obviously a game changer,” Moore said.

House Democrats say it’s the first they’d ever heard of it and they don’t back it.

“They can’t get the votes in their caucus to fix it. They’re unwilling to join with Democrats to fix it. And so, they want to pass a bill and make the governor veto it and lay the blame at his feet,” said Darren Jackson (D-Wake County).

Even if the plan did have enough support, the Republicans say they don’t think it would be voted on this week.

The announcement came as groups have tried to use an impending NCAA deadline to pressure the state to act on the bill, though the Republican legislators insisted the potential breakthrough was not in response to the deadline.

In response, Cooper said:

It’s frustrating that Republican leaders are more interested in political stunts than negotiating a compromise to repeal HB2. While Governor Cooper continues to work for a compromise, there are still issues to be worked out, and Republican leaders’ insistence on including an Indiana-style (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) provision remains a deal-breaker. Any compromise must work to end discrimination, repair our reputation, and bring back jobs and sports, and a RFRA is proven to do just the opposite.

Shortly after the press conference at which the potential deal was announced, two groups fighting HB2 in federal court criticized the proposal.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal issued a joint statement condemning the plan.

“Legislative leaders need to stop floating bad proposals that would still enshrine discrimination into state law rather than fully repeal HB2,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina, in a news release. “The answer all along has been a clean repeal of HB2. Tonight legislative leaders have made one thing clear: they will do everything possible to prevent LGBT people from receiving equal protection under the law.”

Earlier, the executive director of a group that recruits sporting events to the area had said that the NCAA has given North Carolina 48 hours to make changes to House Bill 2 or else the state will lose NCAA events through 2022.

Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said in a statement that he has been informed by NCAA officials that they have set a 48-hour deadline for the state to change HB2.

The following is a quote from Dupree:

I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now. If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids. The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

Visit Raleigh’s president and CEO Dennis Edwards and the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance’s Dupree released a joint statement as well.

We are encouraged by the bipartisan efforts underway in the state legislature to find a solution. That being said, we will not endorse any one bill; we simply seek a swift compromise that will allow us to begin to repair the reputation of our region and state and get back to selling and marketing Raleigh as the thriving Southern capital city that it is, one shaped by the passionate minds of its inclusive and welcoming residents.

We don’t know how the NCAA or other organizations will view specific proposed legislation to repeal and/or replace HB2. Therefore we will not attempt to speak on their behalf or on behalf of any other clients/groups that have expressed concern over holding events in Raleigh and Wake County.”

The NCAA has already removed eight championship sports events from the state due to HB2.

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