CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As members of the North Carolina General Assembly are set to hold a special session on Charlotte's recently passed non-discrimination ordinance, a new poll shows only 25% of North Carolinians think it should be overridden.
The ordinance, passed last month by a 7-4 vote from the Charlotte City Council, broadly defines how businesses must treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. But as in other cities recently, the debate has focused on bathrooms.
It is currently scheduled to take effect on April 1st.
Since its passage, many high ranking officials in the NC legislature have called for a special session in an effort to stop the measure.
Monday evening, a special session was announced. In a joint statement, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, President of the Senate, and House Speaker Tim Moore said:
The special session comes roughly a month before the General Assembly is scheduled to convene for its regularly-scheduled short session in 2016.
State Senator Jeff Tarte of Mecklenburg County says what was approved in Charlotte has far reaching legal ramifications.
"You all of the sudden invalidate criminal trespass ordinances. You invalidate indecent exposure ordinances and laws, and you can't have that," Tarte said.
Lawmakers had to gather the requisite number of signatures to call themselves into a special session after Governor Pat McCrory refused to do so.
According to Public Policy Polling, only 25% of voters in the state think the General Assembly should override Charlotte's ordinance.
Republican governor Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, has been vocal about his concerns over the ordinance, saying changing restroom rules could "create major public safety issues."
"I think [it] breaks the basic standards, and frankly expectations, of privacy that all individuals - men and women and children alike - would expect in a restroom facility or a locker room facility," McCrory said during a sit-down interview last month. "I think they are creating a lot of potential problems."
Fifty-one percent of North Carolinians think Charlotte should have the right to pass its own laws without interference from on high, according to the PPP.
McCrory says the ordinance has "ramifications beyond the city of Charlotte."
A spokesman for McCrory said the Governor refused to call the special session because he had concerns that lawmakers also plan to address other legislative proposals in addition a measure overturning Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance.
In a letter to lawmakers sent Monday, McCrory's office said any legislation not related to the Charlotte ordinance should not be taken up until the regularly scheduled short session convenes. Legislative staff estimates it costs roughly $42,000 extra dollars every day the General Assembly is in session.
Meanwhile, Mayor Jennifer Roberts told WBTV she fears repealing the bill may hurt Charlotte.
"We're focused on being inclusive and welcoming in the way that Charleston, Atlanta, and Orlando and all these other cities that have had this for years," she said. "We want to be competitive."
One of dissenting against votes came from council member Ed Driggs. He said little pushback has come from the opposing side.
"The emails that I got were seven to one against the ordinance from Charlotte, and so I feel that we didn't look hard enough to find a solution that respected everybody," Driggs said.
Democrats who will have a voice in Raleigh, like State Senator Joel Ford, aren't expecting the vote to break down party lines.
"It could very well be viewed as a power grab from Raleigh on behalf of the city of Charlotte," Ford said. "Unfortunately, the city of Charlotte has to take some responsibility for passing ordinance without bringing the General Assembly and the rest of the community along with it."
Matt Hirschy, Director of Advancement for Equality NC, said he thinks the session is a waste of time and taxpayer money. He said he wasn't surprised to hear about the move by state lawmakers.
"For them to do this is really incredible to me that they're willing to compromise their own values in order to legislate discrimination," said Hirschy.