General Assembly to hold special session on Charlotte transgender ordinance

State calling for a special session over non-discrimination ordinance

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Members of the North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene on Wednesday to address an ordinance recently passed by the Charlotte City Council involving transgender people and their choice of bathroom.

The special session was called after three fifths of the members in both chambers approved such a measure.

In a joint statement, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, President of the Senate, and House Speaker Tim Moore said:

"The Senate and House have received the necessary number of signatures from members of the General Assembly to call themselves back into session. In accordance with the State Constitution, we will so call for a special session. We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state."

The special session comes roughly a month before the General Assembly is scheduled to convene for its regularly-scheduled short session in 2016.

Lawmakers had to gather the requisite number of signatures to call themselves into a special session after Governor Pat McCrory refused to do so.

A spokesman for McCrory said the Governor had concerns that lawmakers also plan to address other legislative proposals in addition a measure overturning Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance.

Sources with knowledge of the General Assembly's plans tell WBTV lawmakers also plan to take up legislation banning local municipalities from establishing their own minimum wage.

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.

"Anything above and beyond the bathroom and locker room issue should be dealt with during the full legislative session to allow public hearings and a broader discussion," wrote Fred Steen, Director of Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Governor.

Legislative staff estimates it costs roughly $42,000 extra dollars every day the General Assembly is in session.

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.

Others, like Concord pastor Flip Benham, are hoping state lawmakers do away with the ordinance.

"I would like to see them overturn this thing. It's ridiculous and I believe that they're gonna do that. They're gonna just undo this thing because it's totally insane," explained Benham in an interview with WBTV.

Republican state Rep. Dan Bishop said it was too early to tell what would come of any legislation crafted at the special session. He hopes to get rid of the ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council.

"They've put people at risk and created great uncertainty and great concern and consternation and it needs to be corrected," said Bishop.

The ordinance is scheduled to take effect April 1.

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