Date set for spe­cial ses­sion to undo North Carolina “bath­room bill”

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jonathan Drew

raleigh, n.c.» State lead­ers struck a deal Mon­day to kill the law widely de­rided as the “bath­room bill,” af­ter it tar­nished the state’s rep­u­ta­tion, cost it scores of jobs and con­trib­uted to the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor’s nar­row loss.

Out­go­ing Gov. Pat McCrory an­nounced he would call leg­is­la­tors back to the Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day to re­peal the law known as HB2, which ex­cludes sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity from an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions. The law also re­quires trans­gen­der peo­ple to use re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing with the gen­der on their birth cer­tifi­cate in many pub­lic build­ings.

Un­do­ing the law would be a step to­ward mend­ing po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions that re­main raw well af­ter Elec­tion Day. Just last week, law­mak­ers called a spe­cial ses­sion to strip Demo­cratic Gov.-elect Cooper of some author­ity be­fore he takes office next month.

The state’s Repub­li­can lead­ers con­firmed they’re open to re­peal­ing HB2, but in a sign of lin­ger­ing ac­ri­mony, they ac­cused Cooper of tak­ing too much credit for win­ning their co­op­er­a­tion.

The pas­sage of HB2 in March thrust North Carolina into a na­tional de­bate on trans­gen­der rights and harmed the state eco­nom­i­cally. The state missed out on new jobs as com­pa­nies de­clined to ex­pand in the state, while can­cel­la­tions of con­certs and con­ven­tions ex­acted a toll. The NBA moved its All-Star game to New Or­leans, and in a huge sym­bolic blow to the col­lege bas­ket­ball-crazy state, the NCAA and ACC re­lo­cated events.

Mon­day’s sur­pris­ing events be­gan in the morn­ing when the Char­lotte City Coun­cil voted to undo a lo­cal nondis­crim­i­na­tion law en­acted in early 2016. That or­di­nance, Repub­li­cans leg­is­la­tors say, chal­lenged so­cial norms and spurred them to pass HB2.

“Se­nate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore as­sured me that as a re­sult of Char­lotte’s vote, a spe­cial ses­sion will be called ... to re­peal HB2 in full,” Cooper said in a state­ment Mon­day morn­ing.

McCrory said Democrats used the is­sue for po­lit­i­cal gain.

“This sud­den re­ver­sal with lit­tle no­tice af­ter the gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion sadly proves this en­tire is­sue, orig­i­nated by the po­lit­i­cal left, was all about pol­i­tics and win­ning the gov­er­nor’s race at the ex­pense of Char­lotte and the en­tire state of North Carolina,” said McCrory, a for­mer Char­lotte mayor.

Berger and Moore is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing they would take up the re­peal if McCrory calls them into ses­sion. They said the de­bate over trans­gen­der bath­room ac­cess started with Char­lotte and was pushed by Cooper as “a po­lit­i­cal stunt to drive out-of­s­tate money into the gov­er­nor’s race.”

Repub­li­cans have de­fended the bath­room pro­vi­sions as pro­vid­ing pri­vacy and safety by keep­ing men out of women’s re­strooms. Op­po­nents call it dis­crim­i­na­tory.

The law also was seen as a ref­er­en­dum on McCrory, who be­came its na­tional face. He lost by about 10,000 votes while fel­low Repub­li­cans U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump com­fort­ably won the state. McCrory was the first sit­ting North Carolina gov­er­nor elected to a four-year term to lose re-elec­tion.

Char­lotte Coun­cil­woman Julie Eiselt said she spoke to Cooper late Sun­day night about the city re­peal­ing the or­di­nance to pave the way for get­ting rid of HB2.

“We needed to know that the gov­er­nor-elect had con­fi­dence that there would be a spe­cial ses­sion ar­ranged to take a vote on this,” Eiselt said.

The coun­cil’s move is con­tin­gent on North Carolina fully re­peal­ing HB2 by Dec. 31.

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