Cooper, Republicans trade barbs on HB2 repeal bill - | WBTV Charlotte

Cooper, Republicans trade barbs on HB2 repeal bill

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Governor Roy Cooper and Democrat leaders in the North Carolina House of Representatives opened a new line of attack over the weekend against the bipartisan bill that would repeal House Bill 2.

House Bill 186 was introduced with bipartisan support Wednesday in the North Carolina House of Representatives. It was filed by two Republicans and two Democrats. Thursday, 15 additional lawmakers signed on as sponsors of the bill; three additional Democrats and twelve Republicans.

One of the additional Democrat lawmakers to add their name to the bill, Mecklenburg County Rep. Rodney Moore, announced late Friday that he would take his name off the bill. In a tweet, Moore said he could no longer support the bill because Republican lawmakers were unwilling to compromise on certain parts of the bill.

The bill seeks to fully repeal HB2 and update the state's non-discrimination laws to match federal protections. State colleges and universities, along with some other organizations, would have the option to expand their non-discrimination policies beyond those spelled out in the bill. 

On Sunday, Cooper issued a new video and on-line statement slamming Republicans over what he said was their inability to negotiate; the same line used by Moore in withdrawing his support for the bill Friday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, rather than truly working together, Republican leaders introduced this ‘bipartisan compromise’ by promising Democrats that the referendum provision could be removed and then going back on that promise,” Cooper wrote in a Medium post.

Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), who authored HB186, pushed back against the Democrats’ assertion he and his colleagues were unwilling to negotiate.

“The Governor’s recent Tweets, including a video, are outrageous,” McGrady said in a statement posted on his Twitter. “His senior staff told me a week ago that his political advisors strongly urged him not to compromise at all because the political issue would help Democrats in the 2018 election.”

Some cities already have referendum option

Speaker Moore hit back at Cooper in a statement Monday morning accusing the Governor of trying to sabotage the effort to repeal HB2.

Moore also said some major cities across the state already have provisions that allow referendums on ordinances passed by their local city council.

Specifically, Moore cited Raleigh, Greensboro, and Asheville.

In Raleigh, voters can call a referendum on any non-budget-related ordinance within 20 days of it being approved by the city council. A referendum is triggered by ten percent of the number of registered voters at the time of the last municipal election requesting such a vote.

In Greensboro, voters have 30 days to register a referendum petition with the Guilford County Board of Elections. Organizers then must get support from 25 percent of registered voters within one year of filing their petition. The time period in which organizers can collect signatures is significantly longer than the 90 day period called for in HB186.

In Asheville, voters have until an ordinance takes effect to collect signatures from 15 percent of registered voters to challenge such an ordinance. If they meet the threshold, the ordinance says, the measure passed by the council must be put to a vote.

Lawmakers expected to push for more support

On Saturday, the ACC released a statement indicating its support of the proposed bill. The ACC’s support comes on the heels of favorable statements from a trio of industry groups, including the NC Chamber of Commerce, and a statement by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

House Republicans met in a closed-door caucus meeting Monday night. Senior Republican lawmakers were expected to take a new tally of support for the measure within their own party.

In an exclusive interview discussing his bill last week, Rep. McGrady said the legislation could not just pass with the support of Republican lawmakers alone.

“A majority of republicans in the house will not pass the bill and, therefore, we need a bipartisan approach to this,” McGrady said.

Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) and other House Republicans will host a press conference at the legislature on Tuesday to highlight the support for HB186.

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