After more than an hour of impassioned, sometimes angry, debate over legislation that would repeal a controversial state law that limits LGBT rights and transgender bathroom access, the House approved the measure Thursday by a 70-48 vote.
The Senate voted 32-16 in favor of the proposal earlier in the day, so it now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature.
Republican legislative leaders and Cooper announced late Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to repeal House Bill 2, which was passed just over a year ago and has brought nationwide scorn on the state.
“It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” Cooper said in a statement.
“This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been discussed and discussed and discussed here in North Carolina for a long period of time – for the past year at least,” Senate President Pro Tem
said Thursday. “It is something that, I think, satisfies some people, dissatisfies some people, but I think it’s a good thing for North Carolina and represents, as I said, a significant compromise.”
House Bill 2 was passed to nullify a Charlotte ordinance that required businesses to allow transgender people to use the public bathroom of their choice. The state law said private entities could set their own bathroom access rules and required that people use bathrooms in schools and other government buildings that match the gender listed on their birth certificates.
The law also created a statewide nondiscrimination policy that excluded gay and transgender people and barred cities and counties from extending such protections to them.
House Bill 142, which initially dealt with occupational licensing boards, was gutted and replaced with language repealing House Bill 2 entirely and stating that only the General Assembly can regulate access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities. It also prohibits local governments from enacting or amending ordinances regulating private employment practices or public accommodations until Dec. 1, 2020.
The deal comes as the state faces a deadline imposed by the NCAA, which is selecting sites for championship events to be held between 2018 and 2022. In the wake of House Bill 2, the NCAA pulled several events from the state, and the organization said no events would be held in North Carolina as long as the law remains in effect.