Cooper: Talks to repeal HB2 continue


CHARLOTTE (AP) — A deal with legislative leaders to repeal a bill that directs which bathrooms transgender people can use in some buildings is still possible, Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday after he spoke at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Charlotte.

Cooper told reporters that he’s spoken with GOP Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore since an earlier deal to repeal House Bill 2 fell apart in December.

“We’ve had it out. A couple of times, we’ve talked,” Cooper told reporters after speaking at the YMCA. “They certainly do want to move forward in some way.”

The issue is that legislative leaders want a majority of Republican lawmakers on board before voting on repeal, he said.

“My argument to them is that there are enough overall votes — — even if you don’t have a majority (in the) Republican caucuses — to pass repeal. And I’m urging them to do so. It’s too important to our state,” he said.

The law, passed in March, prevents local governments from passing broad anti-discrimination ordinances for LGBT people and directs which restrooms transgender people can use in schools and government buildings.

Companies have declined to expand, entertainers canceled concerts and the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference pulled their championships out of the state in protest.

Also, Cooper advised that Charlotte City Council not re-enact the non-discrimination ordinance that HB2 nullified. Late last month, during the negotiations with Cooper and legislative leaders, the council removed the ordinance from the city’s books.

After the deal collapsed, some council members suggested re-enacting it to show their commitment to protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.

“Charlotte has taken the step that Republican leaders wanted them to take, and now we need to keep pushing the legislature. The ball’s in their court. It’s time for them to act,” Cooper said. “I don’t see that there’s any need for (the City Council) to (re-enact the ordinance), no.”

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who also attended the breakfast, said she also has spoken with Berger and Moore.

“We are where we’re going to continue to have conversations. And we want to figure out some way forward that repeals HB2 and also sets in place some way to recognize that everyone deserves protection,” Roberts said. “We have to let our cities be cities. I don’t know what that looks like yet because there’s a lot of different ideas about how that may go about.”

She agreed that a symbolic re-enactment of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance would be seen as a provocation by the GOP legislature.

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