House Bill 186, filed on Wednesday, would replace HB2 and allow legislators to reserve the right to regulate access to multiple occupancy bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.
Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, is a sponsor of House Bill 186 along with another Republican and two Democrats. He said the bill is a compromise that provides a path to move past issues HB2 has caused.
“This is a reset to right back where we were before all this silliness started,” he said.
Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, said the Republican-led bill will do everything except restore protections for transgender individuals.
“It’s trying to be touted as a compromise when in truth I don’t believe it goes far enough to turn businesses back to North Carolina or bring the economic losses back that we have experienced since the passage of HB2,” she said.
Fisher is a sponsor of House Bill 82, which was filed earlier this month and would repeal HB2 and provide broader protections for transgender individuals.
Mike Meno, spokesperson for the ACLU of North Carolina, said House Bill 186 does not do enough to protect against discrimination. He would rather see a repeal of the bill that adds non-discrimination protections.
“If the General Assembly doesn’t do the right thing and repeal House Bill 2, we are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of LGBT North Carolinians,” he said.
McGrady said House Bill 186 adopts federal non-discrimination standards, and a bill expanding discrimination protection statewide would not get legislative approval.
“Politics is the art of the possible, and it’s just not possible,” McGrady said.
The bill gives local governments the option to add to the protected classes, but these ordinances are subject to a referendum if 10 percent of voters from the most recent election sign a petition in opposition within 90 days, he said.
Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Sunday that this clause puts the fate of a minority group into the hands of the majority.
“Imagine the endless campaigning — months of one side demonizing the other about whether LGBT citizens have rights. Toxic 30-second TV ads. Nasty mail filling up your mailbox,” Cooper said. “And North Carolina is still in the national news for all the wrong reasons.”
Cooper said House Bill 186 is not a true compromise and will not receive enough votes to pass without changes.
House Bill 186 also gives universities and community colleges the option to expand protected classes, McGrady said, and the bill sets stricter penalties for crimes relating to bathroom privacy.
“If we had been a year ago, talking about allowing cities to expand protected class status to issues of orientation or gender, that would have been a huge victory for the LGBT community,” he said. “A year passed and they’ve just upped their demands.”
President Donald Trump also announced instructions Wednesday to revoke the guidance introduced by the Obama administration requiring schools to respect gender identities.
Fisher said the current lack of protection for transgender individuals is concerning.
“You have a bill with 186 that sort of sets out a class of people who have no protections, who are not entitled to any protections,” she said. “So I think it’ll be ripe for court.”
McGrady said many of his colleagues who voted for HB2 have come to him asking how they can fix their mistakes. He said HB2 has not only negatively affected our state’s economy, but is also ruining debate on every other issue.
“I think if we’re going to solve this issue we need to solve it in the next two weeks, because in the next two weeks we know that the NCAA and the ACC are going to make their decisions about a lot of sports things,” McGrady said. “If we miss this window and then figure it out by July, we will have suffered losses that we can’t recoup.”