New Republican bill would repeal HB2, adds 'rights of conscience' exemption

New Republican bill would repeal HB2, adds 'rights of conscience' exemption

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Legislation drafted by Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives would repeal House Bill 2 and add a judicial right of action for individuals who feel their religious liberties would be infringed by state or local government, among other things.

WBTV obtained a copy of the draft bill after it was distributed in the Republican House Caucus meeting on Thursday morning.

Provisions of the bill differ from the legislation posted by House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) a day earlier.

The legislation distributed to Republican members on Thursday would repeal HB2 and bar state and local entities from regulating access to multiple occupancy bathrooms, restrooms, showers or changing facilities.

Under the proposed legislation, cities and counties would be authorized to create ordinances prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations and private sector employment so long as the protected classifications are established in federal law.

The new bill also includes a new provision allowing people to challenge any state or local government if they feel "burdened or likely to be burdened by an action" of the agency according to Article I, Section 13 of the North Carolina Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty.

Talk of the new proposal comes as the NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that it would begin selecting championship sites for events in 2018-2022 next week.

Currently, the league has said it will not host championship events in North Carolina so long as HB2 remains on the books.

It remains as yet unclear whether the NCAA, ACC or other outside groups would support the new legislation as currently drafted by Republicans.

Also still unclear is whether the current Republican proposal has enough support among the party's members to pass the House or Senate.

Previous proposals—most recently HB186—have largely stalled due to lack of support from Republicans and pressure from Democrat Governor Roy Cooper on members of his party to oppose the bill.

On Thursday, Cooper reiterated his desire to repeal HB2 in response to criticism from Mecklenburg County lawmaker, Sen. Joel Ford (D).

"Everyone who wants to repeal house bill 2 is frustrated that it hasn't happened yet," Cooper said. "I think that there are a number of compromise proposals out there that I would support."

Details of the new draft Republican bill were not available at the time WBTV spoke with Cooper on Thursday morning.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.