Gov­er­nor-elect: End near for North Carolina ‘bath­room bill.’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JONATHAN DREW

RALEIGH, N.C. | North Carolina lead­ers struck a deal Mon­day to kill the state 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.

Demo­cratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper an­nounced Mon­day that leg­is­la­tors will hold a spe­cial ses­sion to re­peal the law known as HB2 that lim­its pro­tec­tions for LGBT peo­ple.

HB2 re­quires trans­gen­der peo­ple to use re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing with the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate in many pub­lic build­ings and ex­cludes sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity from an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions.

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 Mr. Cooper of some author­ity be­fore he takes of­fice next month.

The state’s Repub­li­can lead­ers con­firmed they’re open to re­peal­ing the mea­sure, but in a sign of lin­ger­ing acrimony, they ac­cused Mr. 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. And in a huge sym­bolic blow to the 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 for Tues­day to re­peal HB2 in full,” Mr. Cooper said in a state­ment. “I hope they will keep their word to me.”

Out­go­ing Repub­li­can Gov. Pat McCrory con­firmed he would call law­mak­ers back to the Capi­tol in the fi­nal days of his term — but also ac­cused Democrats of us­ing 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 our en­tire state,” said Mr. McCrory, a for­mer Char­lotte mayor.

Mr. Berger and Mr. Moore is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing they will take up a re­peal if Mr. McCrory calls them into ses­sion, but ac­cused Mr. Cooper of tak­ing too much credit in his an­nounce­ment.

They said Mr. Cooper and Char­lotte’s mayor “proved what we said was the case all along: their ef­forts to force men into women’s bath­rooms and shower fa­cil­i­ties was a po­lit­i­cal stunt to drive outof-state 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 Mr. 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. Mr. McCrory is the first sit­ting North Carolina gov­er­nor elected to a four-year term to lose re-elec­tion.

Af­ter its vote Mon­day, the Char­lotte City Coun­cil said it re­mains com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing rights but that it was will­ing to work with the state to “re­store our col­lec­tive rep­u­ta­tion.”

“The Char­lotte City Coun­cil rec­og­nizes the on­go­ing neg­a­tive eco­nomic im­pact re­sult­ing from the pas­sage of the City’s Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Or­di­nance and the State’s House Bill 2,” the state­ment said.

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

Repub­li­cans have said the Char­lotte or­di­nance had to go first be­fore they would con­sider get­ting rid of HB2.

A re­peal of the state law also could end pro­tracted le­gal chal­lenges by the fed­eral Jus­tice Depart­ment and trans­gen­der res­i­dents. Much of that lit­i­ga­tion has been de­layed while the U.S. Supreme Court hears a sep­a­rate Vir­ginia case on trans­gen­der re­stroom ac­cess.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

North Carolina Gov.-elect Roy Cooper is work­ing with state leg­is­la­tors to make good his cam­paign prom­ise to kill the state’s di­vi­sive “bath­room bill.”

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