Joined by Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake and Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, Cooper offered what he called a “common sense compromise” to satisfy both proponents and critics of the law.
“I know North Carolinians are tired of hearing about this. HB2 has divided us and stained our reputation,” he said. “ ... It’s time for Republican leaders to step up and lead their members because February needs to be the month we get this done.”
Sen. Blue said despite a supermajority, Republican legislators have refused to offer a viable solution.
“This proposal requires some compromise by Democrats — but it addresses every single one of legislative Republicans’ reported concerns surrounding HB2 and we’re willing to come together to get the job done,” he said.
Rep. Jackson said House Bill 2 must be repealed because of its huge economic consequences.
“HB2 has already cost our economy thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We now have a very short window to take action before the NCAA removes tournament games for six years. We must act.”
But Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, said the economic impacts of the bill have been largely exaggerated.
“It’s absolutely false that there has been any kind of major economic impact on North Carolina because of House Bill 2,” she said. “We were rated the second-best state for business by Forbes in 2016. We’re in the top five states for business in almost any indicator that you look at.”
Gov. Cooper’s proposal can’t be considered a compromise for Republicans concerned about privacy, Fitzgerald said.
“It’s laughable because here, you have a governor who says he wants to compromise, yet he puts out this proposal that calls for a full repeal, exposing women and children to increased risk of sexual assault and compromising their privacy,” she said.
Amy Auth, a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement the proposal does not address women’s privacy.
“Gov. Cooper continues to dodge the question, but North Carolinians deserve to know his position on the key HB2 issue: does he believe men should be able to go into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities?” she said.
Auth said Cooper’s press conference was the first time she had heard about his offer for compromise.
“Given that Gov. Cooper’s refusal to enforce existing criminal trespass laws as attorney general was a major reason legislators were forced to pass HB2 in the first place, it is difficult to take seriously his pledge on ‘strengthening penalties,’” she said.
Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC said in a statement that Sen. Berger’s resistance to repealing the bill is less about privacy issues and more about restricting LGBT rights.
“We all know that transgender people do not pose a public safety risk and should be protected from discrimination, not made the targets of it as HB2 does,” he said. “ ... Tim Moore and Phil Berger are acting against the best interest of our state and the LGBTQ community.”