NC lawmakers discuss possible changes to HB2 as session winds down

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Changes could be made to North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 as lawmakers scramble to wrap up their session and get out of Raleigh.

Some Democrats in the General Assembly visited with Gov. Pat McCrory at the Executive Mansion earlier Thursday, with HB2 one of the issue they discussed, some of the Democrats said.

Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham County said, “Right now, there’s certainly a division of opinion among the Republican members of the General Assembly and I think the Democratic members today specifically addressed concerns they have about HB2.”

Sen. Joel Ford (D-Cabarrus) described the talk as a “pleasant conversation.”

One Democrat who was not there was Rep. Chris Sgro, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly.

“The governor still has not learned the lesson that he has to talk to the community that has been most deeply impacted by this terrible legislation if he’s going to get our state out of the situation it is in,” Sgro said.

The Governor’s Office said the list of those who attended was provided by the Democrats.

CBS North Carolina also obtained a copy of a draft bill that would restore the right for employees to sue in state court for discrimination and would also create a certificate of sex reassignment.

Republican legislators weren’t clear whether anything will happen to HB2 by the end of the legislative session.

“There have been all sorts of discussions about this, that and the other thing. There is nothing that is firm as far as a plan at this point,” said Senate Pro Temp Phil Berger.

House Speaker Tim Moore echoed Berger’s statement by saying, “A number of bills are being discussed. It’s the end of session but there has been no agreement reached on anything.”

But where it will land remains uncertain. The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for Charlotte in 2017, and the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets issued a statement on the matter. They said:

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature.  We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all.  We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward.  There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”

Supporters of HB2 are running ads urging lawmakers to leave things alone.

“We always expect in the last week of session there will be attempts to change things and, of course, that’s what’s going on right now,” said Tami Fitzgerald with the North Carolina Values Coalition.

Earlier Thursday, there were calls for a repeal of House Bill 2 before the General Assembly ends its legislative session.

Opponents to the law say it discriminates against the LGBT community. There’s been talk of possible changes to the law that would be introduced before lawmakers adjourn, but so far, no legislation has been formally introduced.

Opponents say the only fix is a repeal of the law.

“There is only one fix to HB2 and it’s full and total repeal,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign.”

Transgender woman Candis Cox had a message for the governor and Republican leaders.

“To Gov. McCrory and the Republican leadership, what matters to them is that I am a transgender person and that I, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I am a threat. I have never threatened anyone. I demand to be respected,” she said.

In the midst of all of this, legislators are also trying to pass the budget.

It now includes $500,000 for the governor to defend against lawsuits over HB2. That money comes from a disaster relief fund.

The house is expected to take a final vote on the budget Friday and sent it to McCrory.

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