North Carolina state legislators are debating a proposal to repeal most of the state's controversial "bathroom bill," and the vote on the measure is expected to be close.
Late on Wednesday, Republican state lawmakers and the Democratic governor of North Carolina said they had reached a deal to repeal HB2, the law that restricts the abilities of transgender people to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.
Debate in the state Senate opened at 11 a.m. Eastern. If passed by the Senate, it will move to the House for approval. Democrats are divided on the bill, WUNC's Jeff Tiberii reports, and it's unclear if enough Republicans support it; the vote is expected to be close.
LGBT activists quickly denounced the proposed bill, which would limit the ability of local officials to extend protections to transgender people for at least four years. The proposed change to HB2 has also angered some conservatives who supported the original measure.
Republican leaders Rep. Tim Moore and Sen. Phil Berger of North Carolina's General Assembly said in a statement late Wednesday: "Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy."
According to Moore and Berger, the bill leaves regulation of "multi-occupancy facilities to the state," and puts in place a "temporary moratorium on local ordinances similar to Charlotte's until December 1, 2020 to allow federal litigation to play out."
Democrat Roy Cooper, who eked out a win over former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in November's election, said he supports the bill. "It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation," the governor said in a statement.
The agreement was reached shortly before a deadline which would have caused North Carolina to lose the option of hosting NCAA basketball championships, Reuters reports.
The college athletic association and other civic and business groups had taken steps to sanction or boycott North Carolina because of the law.
Lawmakers passed HB2 in March 2016 under Gov. McCrory. It requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings. The law also limits localities' ability to pass nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
State lawmakers passed the measure in response to a Charlotte ordinance that would have protected the rights of transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.
Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT rights organization Human Rights Campaign, tweeted that the deal was a "state-wide prohibition on equality" and "doubles down on discrimination."
Previous deals to repeal HB2 have fallen apart.
Earlier this week, The Associated Press estimated that a continuation of HB2 would cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over the course of 12 years.