UPDATE, 1:35 p.m. After more than 90 minutes of debate, including rejected motions to delay the vote until Tuesday and to adjourn the session, the House passed the measure, 70-48.
Forty Republicans and 30 Democrats supported the bill. Thirty-three Republicans and 15 Democrats voted no.
UPDATE, 11:42 a.m. The Senate passed House Bill 142, the H.B. 2 “reset,” 32-16. Sens. Berger and Blue spoke in support of the bill. Sen. Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, spoke against the bill, suggesting it would only delay Charlotte-style ordinances rather than prohibiting them.
Twenty-three Republicans and nine Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Ten Republicans and six Democrats voted no.
After the Senate vote, Berger spoke briefly with reporters.
“What we’re trying to do is take things back to where they were before the Charlotte ordinance. And there wasn’t a problem then,” he said.
“But this is a compromise. And compromises often are difficult to get to. And oftentimes they’re difficult for folks to fully appreciate at the time. But as I said on the floor, this is a good thing for North Carolina,” he added.
The N.C. Senate’s Rules Committee voted Thursday morning to advance a House Bill 2 compromise to the full Senate for consideration later this morning. The so-called “voice vote,” in which no yes and no votes are tallied, keeps the bill on track to be approved today.
The Senate’s top Republican and Democrat made a joint Rules Committee presentation on the proposal, which has been inserted into a stripped version of House Bill 142. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said the measure “satisfies some people, dissatisfies some people, but I think it’s a good thing for North Carolina and represents, as I said, a significant compromise.”
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, R-Wake, said the measure would return state anti discrimination laws to their status before Charlotte passed an ordinance in February 2016 allowing people to use bathroom and changing-room facilities of the gender with which they identify rather than their birth gender. H.B. 2 banned such local ordinances.
No other committee members spoke on the bill before the voice vote.
After the committee vote, representatives of Equality NC, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union held a brief press conference outside the Legislative Building, urging lawmakers to reject the compromise or Cooper to veto the measure if passed.
The process of stripping an existing bill that already cleared the House means that the bill can be finalized and sent to Gov. Roy Cooper today.
If the full Senate endorses its version of H.B. 142, the House can accept the plan with one “concurrence” vote, meaning a single vote to accept the Senate’s changes.
Cooper already has indicated that he will support the compromise measure.
The bill, with barely 200 words of text, does the following:
- Repeals House Bill 2, the controversial “bathroom bill” approved one year ago.
- Specifies that regulation of access to multioccupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities will be left to the state, and
- Blocks local governments from adopting any ordinances regulating private employment practices or public accommodations before Dec. 1, 2020.
A joint news release from Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore says the second portion of the bill “protects privacy in bathrooms and shower facilities” and returns North Carolina “to the status quo prior to passage of Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance.” Charlotte’s controversial 2016 ordinance served as the catalyst for H.B. 2.