McCrory calls for special session Wednesday to discuss repeal of HB2

McCrory calls for special session Wednesday to discuss repeal of HB2

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Governor Pat McCrory announced his proclamation reconvening the North Carolina General Assembly for a fifth special session this coming Wednesday.

The call for yet another special session comes the same day that the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance.

The council voted to repeal its ordinance, commonly known as the "bathroom' ordinance," in exchange for the North Carolina General Assembly repealing House Bill 2 by Dec. 31.

The council voted unanimously to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance Monday. NC Governor Pat McCrory released a video just after 4 p.m. announcing a special session to take place Wednesday to discuss repealing House Bill 2.

The ordinance was pushed through the council in early 2016, just months into Mayor Jennifer Roberts' tenure, and required businesses to allow people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

In response, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly convened a one-day special session to pass its own legislation that rendered Charlotte's ordinance null.

The special session legislation, known as House Bill 2, required individuals to use the restroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in public facilities. That law remains in effect, despite months of turmoil and controversy since its passage.

This was not the first time the council considered repealing its ordinance.

The council last discussed - behind closed doors - the prospect of repealing its ordinance as part of a deal pitched by legislative Republicans in September. Under that deal, Republicans pledged to repeal HB2 if the city's ordinance was repealed.

That deal ultimately fell apart because the council never voted on repealing its ordinance.

At the time, On Your Side Investigates reported that a Democratic lawmaker pressured two council members into opposing repeal.

Republicans, Democrats react

Following the repeal of the city non-discrimination ordinance, both Governor-Elect Roy Cooper and Governor McCrory said a special session would be held to repeal HB2.

Cooper issued a release praising the start of a process that would lead to a full repeal of HB2.

"Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state," Cooper said.

McCrory's earlier statement also questioned the timing of Monday's deal.

"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor's race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state," the release stated.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly doubled down on McCrory's assertion that today's vote revealed the politics behind HB2.

"Today Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women's bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor's race," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.

Charlotte council's deadline could be a sticking point

Even as the Charlotte City Council was voting to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance, some Republicans in Raleigh were expressing reluctance at being forced to follow a deadline set by the council.

The original deal struck between Republicans in Raleigh and the Charlotte council called for the council's ordinance to be repealed without any conditions in exchange for HB2 being repealed, sources confirmed to On Your Side Investigates.

But Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the December 31, 2016 deadline included in the language passed by the council Monday morning should not be a reason for legislative Republicans to pull their support.

"We did not have to do this," she said. "So, if they think that this is a halfway measure, they are not listening carefully to their own constituents."

In answer reporters' questions after the vote Monday morning, Roberts said it was clear a majority of people wanted HB2 to be repealed.

"We have worked incredibly hard. We have bent over backwards to be collaborative in the best interest of not just our city but our state," she said.

At least one Republican lawmaker from Mecklenburg County pledged to still support repealing HB2 even with the council-imposed deadline.

Life is not perfect and if we can get a reset and move forward, then that would be in the interest of the state," State Representative Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg) said. "As long as we are able to protect the privacy of women in city of Charlotte, we will do so."

Early Monday afternoon, another Mecklenburg County representative voiced his support for the action taken by the Charlotte City Council.

"I have said for weeks that any action to resolve our impasse should start where our problem began," Representative Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg) said. "I appreciate City Council for taking this step."

Stone's statement stopped short of saying whether he would vote to repeal HB2.

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