CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Governor Pat McCrory outlined proposed changes to House Bill 2 in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weeks before legislation to change the controversial law became public.
On Your Side Investigates obtained a draft of legislation that would amend HB2, the controversial bill passed in a one-day special session on June 28, 2016. It was the beginning of what would end up being the final week of the 2016 short session.
McCrory sent a letter to Silver on June 15, listing three changes that would later be incorporated into the draft legislation obtained by WBTV.
Ultimately, efforts to introduce the draft legislation on the House floor failed on the penultimate day of the session after a group of Democratic members backed out of a bipartisan coalition that would have passed the legislation.
Among the changes to HB2 outlined in McCrory's letter to Silver in mid-June were the following:
- "Align North Carolina with federal statutory language on non-discrimination for employment and public accommodations."
- "Reinstate discrimination protections in state court."
- "Establish a blue ribbon task force to further examine trends in North Carolina as well as nationally in order to recommend solutions to best deal with this issue at the state and federal level. The task force would be comprised of members from various stakeholders including business, faith, LGBT and other civic leaders."
"With these changes, Charlotte and the State of North Carolina will have more non-discrimination protections in place than when the NBA selected Charlotte as the host city for the All-Star Game in 2015," McCrory's letter said.
Those three provisions were included in the draft legislation obtained by On Your Side Investigates along with a provision to increase penalties for people convicted of crimes in restroom, locker room and changing facilities and the creation of a certificate of gender reassignment for individuals who have had undergone sex reassignment surgery but were unable to get a new birth certificate.
In a statement to On Your Side Investigates Thursday night, McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the changes outlined in the governor's letter to the NBA were part of a verbal agreement with the league.
"Governor McCrory and legislative leadership had reached an agreement with the NBA," Ellis said. "However, this agreement was sabotaged by those with conflicting political agendas, including some Republican lawmakers who leaked the bill and Attorney General Roy Cooper, who lobbied Democrats to reject any form of compromise."
Ellis said the agreement reached between McCrory, legislative leaders and the league did not include making changes to the part of HB2 dealing with bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities.
Spokesmen for the NBA did not respond to an email seeking comment about the agreement with McCrory and legislative leaders Thursday night. The league announced the game would not be played in Charlotte last week.
Previously, a person with knowledge of the NBA's thinking told On Your Side Investigates passage of the draft legislation would have gone a long way towards keeping the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
The league said it opposed the draft legislation days after it was made public by WBTV.
Although the legislature never considered the full draft legislation, a bill re-establishing the right to sue in state court for employment discrimination was passed and signed by McCrory.