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General Assembly to consider HB2 repeal hours before NCAA's deadline

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper looks on at the UNC-Duke game. 

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper looks on at the UNC-Duke game. 

In a press conference late Wednesday, N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said a House Bill 2 deal with Gov. Roy Cooper is in the works.

The General Assembly will consider the bill this morning starting at 9:15 a.m.

In a statement released late Wednesday night, Cooper said he supported the new repeal compromise.

“It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” Cooper said in the statement.

The bill would repeal HB2, but would enact a temporary moratorium on local ordiances similar to Charlotte’s non-discrimination act until Dec. 1, 2020.

“Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy,” Berger and Moore said in a statement late Wednesday.

North Carolina’s bids for NCAA championship sites through 2022 will be thrown out if HB2 is not changed by today, said D. Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, in a statement.

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022,” Dupree said in the statement.

After days of negotiations, Moore announced an unconventional evening legislative session on Wednesday to further discuss HB2 in an attempt to reach an agreement.

The session adjourned at 7 p.m. with no agreement.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau will not endorse any bill, but its CEO, Dennis Edwards, was optimistic that the meetings this week would lead to compromise.

“We are encouraged by the bipartisan efforts underway in the state legislature to find a solution,” he said in a statement. “That being said, we will not endorse any one bill; we simply seek a swift compromise that will allow us to begin to repair the reputation of our region and state...”

Berger and Moore said in an earlier press conference that they agreed to HB2 changes Cooper put forth late last week, but that Cooper later withdrew from the effort.

Cooper denied ever making this proposal, but the N.C. GOP blamed him for the lack of action on HB2.

Last week’s proposal would make it legal to create local nondiscrimination measures, but only if they are consistent with federal nondiscrimination law as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

Though it would repeal HB2, the proposal would have banned local governments, universities and school boards from creating their own bathroom access policies.

This compromise was denounced by LGBTQ advocacy groups, namely the ACLU and Lambda Legal groups that are challenging HB2 in federal court.

“The NCAA has given the legislators a deadline and they can’t continue to hide the ball,” said Simone Bell, southern regional director for Lambda Legal, in a statement. “We have not seen the language of the bill, but what we heard at the press conference sounds like it still allows discrimination against transgender people.”

Even if a new bill passes by the Thursday deadline, there is no guarantee the NCAA will keep the state’s bids.

“We don’t know how the NCAA or other organizations will view specific proposed legislation to repeal and/or replace HB2,” Edwards said in the statement.

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