NC legislators mull changes to HB2, would keep anti-LGBT portion

“There are still conversations that are taking place here and among folks about different things,” Senate leader Phil Berger said, “but I don’t know if there’s anything that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

But even that discussions are happening is surprising, given that GOP legislators last month sounded ready to wash their hands of the matter, leaving the law — originally passed in response to a nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, the state’s largest city — to the courts to resolve.

Democratic Rep. Darren Jackson of Raleigh said he’s seen the outlines of a proposal floated by Republican colleagues. He said it would, among other things, reinstate the right of workers to sue over employment discrimination in state court through a state law. It also would create tougher penalties for people who commit sexual assaults in bathrooms, to bolster law supporters’ arguments that the measure is meant to protect children. But the restrictions on LGBT non-discrimination rules and on restroom use by transgender people wouldn’t go away.

Jackson and others say nothing short of repeal is good enough.

“It’s just another bad bill, it’s just another discriminatory measure,” Democratic Rep. Chris Sgro, the executive director of the gay rights group Equality North Carolina, said Tuesday. He was appointed in April to fill out the term of a legislator who died. “If leadership really wants to do something, they will repeal House Bill 2.”

Other Republicans have said they would consider allowing transgender people who have undergone sex reassignment surgery but were born in a state that doesn’t allow a sex change on birth certificates to receive an exception in the law by getting another document.

“There would be a couple tweaks that I think most of the (Republican) caucus folks would like,” said House Majority Leader Mike Hager, but added he and others see no need to revisit the nondiscrimination restrictions and the restroom provisions. “I think the caucus is pretty well solid on that.”

McCrory wants lawmakers to restore the ability of workers to sue for discrimination. He doesn’t have a line-item veto.

“My goal is to reverse the one part that I think is wrong,” McCrory told reporters late last week. “That needs to be changed and I continue to push for that.”

After the law passed, several businesses and events left or threatened to leave the state. Among them, the NBA has been weighing whether to keep the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. Commissioner Adam Silver said this month that the league would need to see definitive progress toward changing the law by the end of summer to ensure the event remains in the city.

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