Speed Reads

Good Effort

North Carolina effort to repeal 'bathroom bill' HB2 ends in embarrassing failure

Both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly met Wednesday in a one-day special session called by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to repeal HB2, the law passed in March that prohibits local governments from enacting protections for LGBT residents and orders people in the state to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex, not their gender identity. Both houses, each with a large Republican majority, adjourned for the year on Wednesday night after the State Senate voted down the bill, amid accusations of bad faith and broken promises.

HB2 has cost the state hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars as businesses scrapped expansion plans and the NCAA moved games elsewhere, and it is seen as a major reason McCrory narrowly lost his re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper. In the State Senate, Republicans accused Charlotte of not repealing its entire LGBT-protecting city ordinance that prompted HB2, as agreed beforehand. After the Charlotte City Council met in a second emergency session and repealed the entire ordinance Wednesday morning, Democrats balked at a Republican "cooling down period" amendment that would have prevented cities and counties from passing any "ordinance regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers, or changing facilities" for six months.

In the State House, Republicans spent much of the day huddling behind closed doors to decide if they would support any effort to repeal HB2. When the Senate failed to send over a bill, the House voted to adjourn. Social conservatives in and outside the legislature celebrated the repeal's defeat. "This has been a long and ultimately frustrating day," said Senate leader Phil Berger (R) after the session. "The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina, and they failed," Cooper said. "This was our best chance. It cannot be our last chance."

The legislature isn't scheduled to meet again until January, and it promises to be an acrimonious 2017. Last week, the General Assembly passed, and McCrory signed, legislation stripping Cooper of many of his powers. With supermajorities in both houses, Republicans didn't need any Democratic support to pass those laws.