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No Repeal of HB2 in Special Session: Local Representatives Speak on the Matter

The vote that effectively ended the legislative session. Though the goal of the session was to repeal HB2, that wasn’t the end result.

By Jesse Wood

North Carolina lawmakers failed to repeal HB2, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill,” which forces transgender people to use the gender-based bathroom listed on their birth certificate – along with preventing local governments from raising the minimum wage and eroding the right for employees to sue in state court for workplace discrimination.

HB2 was passed this summer after the Charlotte City Council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance. Yesterday’s special session was called by Gov. Pat McCrory. He  agreed to call the meeting after Charlotte rescinded its ordinance earlier this week in anticipation of the repeal of the state’s law.

The goal of yesterday’s meeting was to repeal HB2, but that failed in the Senate, resulting in finger pointing from both sides of the political aisle.

As WRAL reported, “Democrats pinned the blame on Republicans who did not offer a ‘clean’ repeal bill, but rather one with a moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances that LGBT advocates found objectionable. Republicans pointed their fingers at the 16 Senate Democrats who ended up voting against a bill they viewed as a political trap, the Charlotte City Council and, most especially, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper.”

Attached to the bill repealing HB2 was a “six-month, cooling-off period,” where “no local government in this state may enact or amend an ordinance regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers or changing facilities.”

High Country representatives in the state legislature are Republicans Sen. Deanna Ballard and Rep. Jonathan Jordan. Through her legislative assistant, Ballard said she was unavailable to talk on Thursday or Friday and referred High Country Press to Sen. Phil Berger’s press release on the matter, which was titled “Roy Cooper Kills HB2 Repeal Again.”

Though she referenced Berger’s press release, Ballard, a conservative who works at Samaritan’s Purse and previously worked in the Bush administration, didn’t vote alongside Berger.

Ballard voted alongside 15 other Republicans and the 16 Democrats that Berger blamed in his press release. When running for election this past fall, Ballard expressed support for HB2 and voiced opposition to the Charlotte City Ordinance.

(As WRAL reported, “Once the special session was called, groups representing social conservatives such as the North Carolina Family Policy Council, the Christian Action League and the North Carolina Values Coalition began to pour on pressure, pushing lawmakers to reject the rollback deal.”)

The vote that killed any efforts to repeal HB2 was 16 GOP ayes to 32 bi-partisan nays. (See above graphic.)

Sixteen Senate Republicans voted for the repeal bill with the “cooling-off” period. But 16 other Republicans in the Senate voted alongside the Democrats. The latter essentially saw the cooling-off period as six more months of HB2.

Rep. Jordan and his fellow colleagues in the N.C. House of Representatives didn’t get a chance to vote on the matter. But like Berger, Jordan blamed Democrats.

Jordan also said “a huge sense of mistrust” was lingering because the Charlotte City Council failed to initially roll back its entire ordinance, something council members said was an overlooked technicality – not the “worst political stunt” as described by Republican Sen. Andrew Brock of Davie.  

Though Democrats and the LGBT community disagree, Jordan said the bill, which included the six-month moratorium, was a “clean” repeal. After Democrats voted against the bill, Jordan said Republicans “were left shaking our heads.”

“I am very torn on this whole issue. I still think HB2 in its original intention is protecting people like my 8-year-old daughter. I think we did it for good reasons and I disagree with a lot of the criticisms,” Jordan said.

Jordan noted that the bill hurt some of the urban areas like Charlotte and Raleigh: “But not a huge amount in terms of the entire state gross domestic product.”

He was obviously referencing some of the critical headlines such as Forbes’ “North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Flushes Away $600 Million in Business and Could Dash Governor’s Hopes.’

After the bill passed, the NBA pulled its All-Star game from the state and the NCAA and ACC pulled its college sporting championships from the state. In addition, companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank halted expansions, costing the state an estimated 650 jobs and $42 million of annual payroll. 

Locally, tourism officials expressed concern about HB2 earlier this summer.

Below is reaction from Dems and the GOP:

Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement on the special session:

Gov. McCrory
Gov. McCrory

“As promised, I called a Special Session to reconsider a manufactured political issue that strategically targeted the city of Charlotte and our state by well-funded left-wing interest groups. This was at least the third time that pressure from the left sabotaged bipartisan good faith agreements for political purposes.

“As I’ve stated multiple times, the balance between privacy and equality is not just a North Carolina issue, it is a national issue that will be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.
”North Carolina will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in job growth, education, quality of life and equality for all of our citizens.”

Cooper Statement On Failure Of NCGOP To Keep Promise On HB2

RALEIGH — Today, Governor-elect Roy Cooper released a statement on the actions of the General Assembly: 


“The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina today, and they failed.

“I am disappointed that Republican legislative leaders refused to live up to their promise to fully repeal House Bill 2. I’m disappointed for the people of North Carolina — the jobs that they may not get. I’m disappointed that we haven’t yet removed the stain from our reputation around the country and around the world.

“People want us to work together for the good of our state. I know there were enough Democratic and Republican votes to fully repeal HB 2 by itself. But Republican legislative leaders have broken their word to me and broken their trust with the people. 

“My staff and I worked day and night through the past week to forge an agreement that would bring back jobs and sporting events. For the first time ever on this issue, we had House Republican leaders, Senate Republican leaders, Senate Democrats, House Democrats, the Charlotte City Council, business leaders, sports leaders and the LGBT leaders in agreement. The Charlotte City Council held up its end of the deal by repealing its ordinance. When it came time for Republican legislative leaders to do their job, they failed.

“This was our best chance. This cannot be our last chance.”

NCGOP Calls on Cooper to Pay for Costs of Smoke and Mirrors Session

ashegopRALEIGH, NC — The North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) releases the following statement: 

“After months of threatening boycotts and misleading rhetoric, not a single Democrat voted to repeal HB2 on a straight up and down vote. It’s even more absurd that Govenor-elect Cooper privately pressured Senate Democrats to reject the deal while publicly calling on lawmakers to support a repeal. This is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and the people of North Carolina deserve more than the lies and collusion that Roy Cooper has fashioned himself accustomed to,” said NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes.

NCGOP’s Dr. Ada Fisher Calls on Cooper to Condemn NAACP’s Latest Political Posturing

RALEIGH, NC — The North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) releases the following statement: 

“One day after Democrat Governor-Elect Roy Cooper, who is not officially in that office, ordered legislative democrats to vote against a full repeal of HB2, the NAACP is seeking to inflict economic damage on ten million North Carolina citizens, including over two million African Americans. 

As a Life Member of the NAACP, I am tired of efforts by the State NAACP to enjoin people in mandates which were not the purpose of my organization.  This punishes hard working North Carolina citizens of color and can hardly be considered ‘advancement.  Further, the NAACP is comprised of several thousand women and young people, as well as others, who care about their privacy and dignity in bathrooms, showers and other facilities. These women and young Americans deserve for the NAACP to stand up for their privacy instead of wasting energy on bogus political pandering which results in special rights not equal rights as constitutionally stated.

Governor Elect Roy Cooper, said he was working to bring back events and jobs to North Carolina. If this is true, he has a duty to condemn William Barber and the NC Chapter of the NAACP boycott in the strongest possible terms.”

Dr. Ada Fisher, NC RNC National Committeewoman and Life Member of the NAACP

Senate Democratic Leader, Dan Blue, on Special Session

Senate Democratic Leader, Dan Blue, issued the following statement following the General Assembly’s fifth extra session:

“We came to Raleigh for a specific purpose, to solve a specific problem that had a very clear solution. What we needed to do was to repeal House Bill 2, put this damaging legislation behind us so that we could move into 2017 with an opportunity to rebuild in North Carolina.

“We are disappointed that Republicans could not ultimately work towards that resolution for our state. The bill they produced will not resolve the problems that House Bill 2 created. What will resolve it is a full and clean repeal of the bill. We hope that, when we return in January, we can revisit this issue, put it behind us and then work towards creating comprehensive, inclusive nondiscrimination laws that protect all North Carolinians.”

Release from The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund 

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, the North Carolina state legislature failed to pass legislation repealing HB2 before adjourning a special session. Previously, the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its local city ordinance that clashed with HB2 after receiving commitment from the state lawmakers to repeal the anti-LGBTQ law. 

“The full repeal of HB2 with no harmful amendments would be welcomed news for North Carolina, but instead, GOP lawmakers have turned their backs on LGBTQ people, workers, veterans, women and people of faith. Let’s be clear: HB2 is bad for business, bad for politicians, but  bad for all North Carolinians as it denies millions of people freedom, justice, equality and human dignity. HB2 bans cities and local jurisdictions from enacting non-discrimination protections on grounds such as race and gender,  from enacting equal pay laws, family paid leave, and livable minimum wages.  
“Tonight, self-interested North Carolina politicians showed that they will stop at nothing as they resigned themselves to an even worse reputation and an economy that’s continuing to plummet. If  nothing else, these lawmakers not only need to repeal HB2 but also pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. If they do nothing, HB2 will go down in history as one of the most vindictive and damaging laws in the state’s recent history,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Charlotte City Council repealed its landmark law in good conscience and the state lawmakers failed to do their part. What  is particularly notable about all of this is the role that thousands of people of faith played in protesting HB2 as immoral. These voices were pivotal and will be critical as we fight for full repeal of HB2 and passage of full nondiscrimination protections. This was a tremendous opportunity for North Carolina to right a great wrong; it’s unconscionable that lawmakers chose to waste it,” said Carey.

Over the past year, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund’s sister organization, the National LGBTQ Task Force, led the way in faith organizing: having thousands of conversations with people of faith (POF); providing specialized  advocacy trainings for POF; and, helping to raise POF voices in efforts to eliminate discrimination. For example, on Election Day, the National LGBTQ Task Force staff where in Charlotte, North Carolina to engage voters in our #FaithfulVoters project. Staff  and volunteers collected more than 1,000 responses to surveys of POF on LGBTQ protections, racial profiling, and reproductive justice issues. This work indicated that POF overwhelmingly support justice and liberation for all people.

Berger’s Release: Roy Cooper Kills HB2 Repeal Bill Again

After months of demanding the General Assembly repeal House Bill 2 (HB2), Gov.-elect Roy Cooper killed its repeal Wednesday by pressuring Senate Democrats to vote it down.

On the heels of the Charlotte City Council’s repeal of their radical ordinance forcing men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities, Senate Republicans offered legislation to hit reset on the issue by fully repealing HB2 and putting in place a cooling-off period on radical bathroom sharing ordinances like Charlotte’s ordinance that prompted HB2. Senate Democrats did not support this. 

So Republicans gave the Democrats a clean up or down vote on repealing HB2 in its entirety. All 16 Democrats voted no.  (See attached.)

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Roy Cooper operated in bad faith by passing a secret, partial repeal in a closed-door meeting, and tried to claim credit for compromising on the same ‘deal’ they killed multiple times for their own political gain during campaign season. But Senate Republicans kept their end of the deal anyway and voted to fully repeal HB2.

“Make no mistake: Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats killed the repeal of HB2, abandoning Roy Cooper’s commitment to avoid divisive social issues by shooting down a temporary cooling off period on ordinances like the one that got us into this mess last March,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation and our economy.”