Governor Roy Cooper was in Charlotte today speaking at the YMCA's annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday breakfast. He told those in attendance he's had extended discussions with GOP Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore about repealing HB2.
"We've talked," said Cooper. "They certainly do want to move forward in some way. I think where they are stuck is they want a majority of their caucuses before they let something on the floor."
It appeared that HB2 was on its last legs just before the holidays. A deal between the General Assembly and the Charlotte City Council was reached where the Council would remove a non-discrimination ordinance in exchange for the repeal of HB2. The deal collapsed when senate Republicans added SB4, which would have repealed HB2 but added a six-month moratorium on any local government from passing an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Cooper says it was a golden opportunity that was wasted.
"It was our best chance, at the end of the year, to get it done," said Cooper. "But it can't be our only chance."
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who also attended the breakfast, said she also has spoken with Berger and Moore. Cooper says the time to act is now.
"You talk about wanting something to happen bipartisan," said Cooper. "There can't be anything any more important and bipartisan than getting this done for our state. Particularly here in Charlotte."
After the deal fell apart, Charlotte leaders considered re-enacting the nondiscrimination ordinance that HB2 nullified. However, Cooper urged them not to do that.
"I think Charlotte has taken the step that Republican leaders wanted them to take," said Cooper. "Now we need to keep pushing the legislature. The ball is in their court. It's time for them to act."
Roberts agreed that a symbolic re-enactment of the city's non-discrimination ordinance would be seen as a provocation by the GOP legislature. 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. Because of House Bill 2, companies have declined to expand, entertainers canceled concerts and the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference pulled their championships in the state in protest.
So will the latest round of discussions finally lead to a repeal? Cooper sounds hopeful.
"I believe that if a repeal gets to the floor of the Senate and the House, that there are enough Republicans and Democrats to repeal it," said Cooper.