RALEIGH (WTVD) --North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper floated a new proposal for the repeal of House Bill 2 on Tuesday.
"February needs to be the month that we get this done or it may be too late," said Governor Cooper.
HB2 requires people to use the restroom according to their biological sex listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools, and universities. The law also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from anti-discrimination protections and blocks municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination and living wage rules.
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Since it was passed, sports leagues have pulled championship and all-star games from the state and dozens of companies have scrapped expansion plans - causing millions of dollars of economic damage to North Carolina.
Cooper said if the law is not repealed right away, then North Carolina stands to lose NCAA and ACC championship sports events for the next six years - with a cost to the state in the millions of dollars.
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Cooper said companies he's talked to are also hesitant to bring new jobs here until the law is repealed.
"I know North Carolinians are tired of hearing about this. House Bill 2 has divided us and stained our reputation, but it's time for Republican leaders to step up and lead their members, and for me to step up and lead the Democratic members to a common sense solution that fixes the problem," said Cooper.
Cooper said he believes there are already enough Republican and Democratic votes in the General Assembly for a clean repeal of HB2, but the leadership won't bring it to a vote.
Cooper offered a three-part compromise.
1) Repeal HB2
2) Increase punishments for offenders who threaten safety or privacy in public restrooms or changing rooms
3) Mandate that local governments allow 30 days for public and General Assembly input before passing any anti-discrimination ordinances
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Republicans were tepid in their responses to Cooper's latest proposal.
In a statement released later Tuesday, Senate Leader Phil Berger's (R-Rockingham) office said Cooper's news conference was the first they'd heard of the new proposal.
"...Given that Gov. Cooper's refusal to enforce existing criminal trespass laws as attorney general was a major reason legislators were forced to pass HB2 in the first place, it is difficult to take seriously his pledge on 'strengthening penalties.' This proposal does nothing to address the basic privacy concerns of women and young girls who do not feel comfortable using the bathroom, undressing and showering in the presence of men..." Berger's spokesperson Amy Auth wrote in part.
Berger argues the proposal is not a compromise.
"He needs to come forward with something other than what he's been saying all along," said Berger. "He needs to move off of the far-extreme, where he is on this issue."
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, said in a statement:
"If Governor Cooper's proposed bill for repealing HB2 becomes law, it will create a state-sanctioned 'Look But Don't Touch' policy in our bathrooms.
Heterosexual men will be able to access women's showers and bathrooms by simply posing as a transgender individual. They will be able to watch women and children shower, or shower next to them. As long as the man doesn't touch them, assault them or film them, no legal protection would be afforded the offended woman or child. Nothing. As a husband and father of four, the concept of 'Look But Don't Touch' as a meaningful response to HB2 is a sad commentary on how far the progressive movement and the elected officials beholden to it, will risk the safety of our people to achieve a radical social policy agenda."
Col Francis De Luca, President of the Civitas Institute, told ABC11: "I don't believe the 30-day notice will be enough for proponents of the original legislation to repeal HB2. In essence 30-day notice is about the normal length of period for proposing and passing local ordinances. The legislative proposal was for a longer moratorium period to allow for considered legislation to address the impasse."
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