RALEIGH - NC Senate leader Phil Berger said in an interview with Time Warner Cable News Thursday that there are not enough votes in the General Assembly for an outright repeal of the controversial HB2 law that has cost the state millions.
"I think the window for that compromise may not be open at this point," Berger said. "And I certainly don't believe the votes exist for an outright repeal without anything else."
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.
Berger's comments come days after a long legislation session in downtown Raleigh and weeks after Governor Roy Cooper said a pathway existed for a repeal of HB2.
During December's short session, legislators floated the idea of a repeal. However, the effort fell short after Republicans attached a six-month moratorium on cities passing nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBT people. According to Berger, Cooper told Democrats to vote against the Republicans' offer.
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Equality NC executive director and former state representative, Chris Sgro, told ABC11 that Sen. Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore aren't looking out for the best interest of North Carolinians.
"It's childish. It's not about left, right, or center anymore," said Sgro. "It's about their actions being in a childish fashion that's not best for the people of North Carolina."
Berger says people fail to see the domino effect of what may happen if and should a full repeal be passed. "I'm concerned about some of the proposals that have been out there about full repeal of HB2 and not taking into consideration the consequences of what that repeal might be in terms of what other local governments might do," Berger told TWC News.
Most recently, Forbes Travel Guide ranked Raleigh as being one of the top 12 destinations to visit in the world. Also in 2016, Forbes ranks Raleigh as the number 2 place in the country to do business - all while conventions, businesses, and sporting events have canceled or postponed doing business in the state.
"Our economy is not going to recover until we're able to repeal House Bill 2," Sgro said.
NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds released the following response to Senator Berger's comments: "Each day it remains on the books, House Bill 2 continues to tarnish North Carolina's national image and cost us tourism, investment, and jobs. Between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, there are enough votes for a clean repeal - just as there were in December. After getting us into this mess, Speaker Moore and President Pro Tem Berger should show some leadership for once and put North Carolina first by finally repealing this bill."
Saturday, Cooper released the following statement:
I remain optimistic that HB2 will be repealed if Sen. Berger and House leaders allow a clean repeal vote on the floor. My conversations with legislators convince me that there are enough Republican and Democratic votes to reverse the hardship on North Carolinians who've lost income due to HB2. If there ever was a need for bipartisanship, it's now. We came too close in December for Sen. Berger to give up. Too many jobs, too much investment, too much of North Carolina's reputation are at stake. We must succeed.
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