House Bill 186 was filed on Wednesday with the hope of repealing North Carolina’s House Bill 2.
Two Republicans and two Democrats were the primary sponsors of the newly filed legislation.
“It’s a bill that I view as sort of a bipartisan path forward to deal with an issue that is very complex and needs to be resolved,” bill sponsor and Hendersonville Republican Chuck McGrady said at a press conference Wednesday evening.
Several other bills have been filed to repeal House Bill 2 during the long legislative session that have ranged from a clean repeal of the law, which advocates maintain is the worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation, to repealing the law but also adding other provisions.
HB 186, McGrady said, was the first bipartisan legislation to come forward and represented approximately 10 months worth of work.
The new bill would also expand the statewide nondiscrimination ordinance but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Local government bodies would be allowed to expand nondiscrimination ordinances under the new proposal after at least 30 days public notice of the proposed ordinance. McGrady said that was unprecedented power for municipalities and counties in the Tar Heel state.
“Cities are actually being given authority to enact an ordinance that they can expand the protected classes,” McGrady said.
But local ordinances would not be allowed to regulate access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms, showers or changing facilities, unless those are “owned or under the direct control of the city.” The bill would also keep new local ordinances from going into effect for 90 days. That period is to allow local residents who may oppose the ordinance to gather signatures from 10 percent of the number of registered voters who cast votes in the most recent municipal election. The ordinance would then be put on the local ballot to conduct a referendum at the next municipal or general election.
HB 186 also would increase penalties for crimes committed in restrooms.
“This is not a take-it-or-leave-it bill either,” McGrady said. “As I explained to my colleagues, this is a bill that there’s give and take. And we’re going to run this through the normal process, assuming the bill gets legs.
“And I think there’s a good possibility that it will get legs.”
McGrady added that he felt he could get the majority of the Republican caucus on board with this bill. But he acknowledged he would need the help of newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to get support from the other side of the aisle.
“I think I can get a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats on this bill,” McGrady said, “if Governor Cooper will help me get those Democratic votes.”
McGrady said that this bill would go through the legislative process, but he emphasized that time was of the essence.
“Let’s say we take this bill and we pass it in July,” McGrady said, “by then, we will suffer damages that could be rolled back if we do that in the near term.”
McGrady was referring to the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference pulling championship events out of North Carolina due to House Bill 2.
“I’ve got a lot of colleagues – Republican and Democratic colleagues – who want a fix,” McGrady said. “Now, the problem is they don’t know what that fix looks like. And we didn’t really have a form to figure out what that middle is.
“We now have a talking point here.”
Governor Cooper issued a statement after the press conference on Wednesday saying, “We must repeal House Bill 2 and I remain committed to getting that done. But I am concerned that this legislation as written fails the basic test of restoring our reputation, removing discrimination, and bringing jobs and sports back to North Carolina. I will keep working with the legislature.”
LGBT advocates have expressed opposition to the new bill.
There is no word from the ACC or NCAA if this new proposal would bring championship events back to North Carolina.
It is unclear what the future holds for the new proposal.