Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) pointed to Governor-elect Roy Cooper as the reason that a deal could not be reached to repeal the controversial law known as HB 2.
Gov. Pat McCrory called the Legislature into Raleigh again after the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its controversial “bathroom bill” that amended its non-discrimination policy earlier this year which, if not nullified by HB 2, would have forced businesses and public bodies alike to allow people to choose which gender specific facility to use, in an effort to allow transgendered people to use the bathroom or changing room that aligned with their chosen gender.
The Council repealed the ordinance in two parts, voting unanimously on Monday to repeal the section passed earlier this year and then walking the entire ordinance back to its 1968 form Wednesday morning.
Most of the day was spent in caucus discussing the measure to repeal HB 2 with the vote coming in the evening before the Senate adjourned around 7:30 p.m.
Before the vote Berger said he was offering Democrats a chance to prove that they sought a repeal of HB 2 by splitting the controversial cooling-off period in the bill from the rest of the bill, meaning that had that proposition been approved HB 2 would be repealed, but that vote failed 32-16 with all Senate Democrats voting against it.
Berger said, “What you’ve had before you today is not some gimmick to create the best of both worlds. It is a good faith effort, given the passion and disagreement surrounding this issue, and it is a reasonable solution that puts HB 2 behind us while providing some time to work out some of these broader tensions.”
Berger called into question whether Senate Democrats really ever wanted to repeal HB 2 or just use it as a political weapon in the 2016 election.
“You spent the year demagoguing the bill and using it as a wedge issue in the campaigns,” he said. “You killed efforts to compromise. And then you tried to take credit for the very same compromise. Surely you understand why there’s still doubt about whether you really want to repeal House Bill 2 and start over, or if you just want to get your way, and continue to scream at Republicans.”
Berger said that he was going to split the motion into one, a full repeal of HB 2 and then have a second vote on the cooling-off period.
“I’m making a motion to divide the question. We will take two votes: The first is simply a repeal of House Bill 2. Straight up. Yes or no. The second is a vote on the cooling off period,” he said. “This is your one and only opportunity to show us how serious you are about repealing HB2.”
That is the vote that ended up 32-16 against with 16 Republicans and Democrats voting against the measure.
Many Republicans opposed the measure because they did not want to let the city council of a municipality dictate the State Legislature’s actions.
Had the Democrats shifted their 16 votes to repealing HB 2 the law would likely be no more.
Berger blames Cooper for the failed vote, and the deal with Charlotte falling through, after Cooper ran on a platform of repealing HB 2 and worked to broker the deal between Charlotte and the Legislature.
“Make no mistake: Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats killed the repeal of HB 2, abandoning Roy Cooper’s commitment to avoid divisive social issues by shooting down a temporary cooling off period on ordinances like the one that got us into this mess last March,” Berger said. “Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation and our economy.”
Charlotte media outlets reported that Cooper rallied Senate Democrats to oppose the bill due to the presence of a six-month cooling off period before any local governments could pass additions to their non-discrimination ordinances to avoid starting the same process all over again that began earlier this year with the passage of Charlotte’s addition to its non-discrimination ordinance.
Berger said that the Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Cooper operated in bad faith by passing a “secret, partial repeal a closed-door meeting” and then turned around and compromised that same deal for political gain.