Democrats push HB2 repeal bill in N.C. Senate

Future of the bill is dubious despite Gov. Cooper’s support

RALEIGH, N.C. — The first step has been taken to get House Bill 2 (HB2) off North Carolina’s law books. Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte, N.C. introduced legislation, Senate Bill 25 (SB25), on Feb. 2 that would fully repeal the discriminatory legislation that has cost North Carolina upwards of $600 million and forbids local non-discrimination ordinances. Though the first step has been taken, the future of the repeal is uncertain.

The bill appeared on the Senate’s calendar, but was assigned to the Rules Committee headed up by Republican Sen. Bill Rabon. The fate of SB25 rests in Rabon’s hands. He can decide to call for a vote, or not, as he sees fit.

Holding the puppet strings on the HB2 dance is Senate Leader Phil Berger, who has told Time Warner Cable News that repeal is unlikely in the near future.

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“I don’t see a pathway in the short term for there to be an addressing of that issue — I think it’s something that’s going to take some time,” Berger said.

But HB2 opponents won’t give up yet. Gov. Roy Cooper insisted to reporters on Jan. 16 that “there are enough overall votes” even if there isn’t a Republican majority of support. A proposed repeal was voted down in late December, as it contained language that would prevent local non-discrimination protections, a condition that Democrats would not accept.

SB25 proponent Sen. Jackson was adamant that a full repeal is necessary to prevent further damage to the North Carolina economy.

“The economic consequences are not going to stop, they are going to build unless we do what we obviously should do which is get this law off our books,” Jackson told WSOCTV.

More than the economic consequences, HB2 has inflicted harm on the personal level for many North Carolina citizens. One transgender resident, Connie Bercham, has been actively contacting lawmakers to call for them to support full repeal. One response, from Rep. Mark Brody R-District 55, upset her.

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“I am saddened by the fact that North Carolina doesn’t provide the help you need to readjust from the mental disorder you suffer with,” Brody wrote to Bercham. “It appears that allowing you to use a bathroom, locker room or shower of your choice only reinforces the disorder not helps to correct it.”

The mislabeling of transgender people as suffering from a mental condition dubbed “gender dysphoria” is all too common, and it does nothing to help their quality of life in a state that legally discriminates against them.

“Too many of our representatives are representing their own personal views, and not the views of their constituency,” Berchem told WSOC-TV. “His words, I felt, were very demeaning.”

Bercham’s point about constituents’ dislike of HB2 is supported by a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling. The polls show that 50 percent of voters oppose HB2 compared to 32 percent that support it. Of those surveyed, 58 percent believe it is hurting the state’s economy.

It remains to be seen whether or when GOP lawmakers will reflect the public’s values on this matter.

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