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North Carolina's Legislature Poised To Repeal 'Bathroom Bill'

A unisex sign and the "We Are Not This" slogan are outside a bathroom at Bull McCabe's Irish Pub on May 10 in Durham, N.C.

North Carolina's Legislature is poised to repeal the controversial "bathroom bill," after the Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to repeal its local anti-discrimination measure.

The state law, called House Bill 2 or HB2, was passed in March as a direct response to that Charlotte measure — over the course of 12 hours, in the state's first special legislative session in 35 years.

Now the law might be rolled back in another special session, again following a decision by the Charlotte City Council.

Among other things, HB2 blocked local jurisdictions from passing anti-discrimination laws affecting to anyone not protected at the state level, including gay and transgender people. It also required trans people in government facilities to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.

The Charlotte measure that HB2 blocked would have expanded the city's anti-discrimination measure to protect LGBT people from biased treatment by businesses. It would also have allowed trans people to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity.

Since HB2 was passed, leaders in Charlotte had considered a deal with state lawmakers under which they'd repeal their measure and then the state would repeal HB2 — but rejected the proposal, member station WFAE reports. Then, on Monday morning, they had a surprise session — not announced to the media — and changed course.

"This morning, the City Council repealed that ordinance, but made it contingent upon the Legislature repealing HB2 by Dec. 31," Will Michaels of member station WUNC reports for NPR.

"Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law, says he will call a special session this week to repeal it," Michaels says.

In a statement the Republican governor framed the repeal of the Charlotte ordinance as a victory.

"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics," McCrory said.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, the Democrat who defeated McCrory in the recent election, said in a statement Monday that he hopes legislators "will keep their word to me" and repeal HB2, member station WFAE reports.

"Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state," Cooper said, according to WFAE.

As Michaels notes, "HB2 has been the subject of corporate boycotts ranging from PayPal reversing a decision to expand in Charlotte to the NCAA pulling tournament games out of North Carolina."

State Sen. Jeff Tarte called the planned repeal of both the Charlotte ordinance and HB2 a "reset."

The update on the HB2 controversy comes as North Carolina's Legislature was already making headlines — for a law, signed by McCrory, to limit his successor's influence and authority.

Cooper defeated McCrory by about 10,000 votes, and McCrory didn't concede the race for nearly a month.

Then, as the Two-Way reported last week, the Legislature met "for a special session called by Republican lawmakers ostensibly to pass a disaster relief bill for Hurricane Matthew." But once that bill passed, they passed measures to strip Cooper of a variety of powers.

WFAE reports that McCrory has signed some of those bills into law, including one that blocks Cooper from appointing mostly Democrats to the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission. That law also puts Republicans, as the party with the second-most registered voters, in charge of the Board of Elections during major election years.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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