NC weighs tweaks to House Bill 2

North Carolina General Assembly
North Carolina General Assembly

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina General Assembly may make small changes to House Bill 2, House Speaker Tim Moore said Friday afternoon.

But with the session heading toward a conclusion, it appears any major changes to the controversial bill are unlikely.

“I think what you’ll see, at least at this point, and I don’t see it changing frankly, is a change to the access to the state courts,” Moore said.

Senate leader Phil Berger, asked before the session started if there would be changes, said, “I just don’t see the need for it.”

Lawmakers did vote on one change, and that is to approve the transfer of half a million dollars from a disaster relief fund to be set aside for legal fees to defend House Bill 2. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has called House Bill 2 “a national embarrassment” and said his office would not defend it.

Moore, speaking about Cooper, said, “I wish that the attorney general would defend the laws of the state of North Carolina. I wish that we did not have to retain outside counsel to do that.”

The General Assembly is looking to wrap up the short session. Earlier Friday, the House passed the budget 91-22 and sent it on to Gov. Pat McCrory.

House Bill 2 has been a national issue, with some companies pulling out of North Carolina and the NBA threatening to yank the All-Star Game out of Charlotte in 2017. But state leaders have refused to make any dramatic changes to the bill.

Moore said lawmakers are looking at changing the part that eliminated the ability of citizens to sue for discrimination in state court. Gov. Pat McCrory had previously raised concerns about that part of the bill, although he did sign the bill the day it came to him.

State Rep. Chris Sgro, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, said the change Moore is talking about is not enough.

“If we adjourn tonight or early tomorrow without having repealed House Bill 2, then Tim Moore, Sen. Berger and Gov. McCrory will be complicit in putting North Carolina in incredibly deep economic jeopardy,” Sgro said.

In a statement, Tami Fitzgerald of the North Carolina Values Coalition said, “North Carolina Values Coalition is not opposed to the reported technical correction bill that intends to reinstate an individual’s ability to file suit for discrimination under state law.

“As the session comes to a close, we applaud the Governor and Legislative leaders for standing firmly behind HB2.”

 

 

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