N.C. lawmakers won’t publicly commit to ‘bathroom bill’ repeal
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s governor insists there are enough votes to kill the state’s “bathroom bill.” But a survey by The Associated Press and eight North Carolina newspapers shows less than a third of lawmakers are willing to publicly commit to that stance.
A closely watched deal to repeal the law fell apart during a December special session amid distrust between Democrats and Republicans. The law known as House Bill 2 sparked backlash from businesses and LGBT advocates who say it’s discriminatory because it requires transgender people to use restrooms in many public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide antidiscrimination protections.
Only 12 of 50 state senators and 40 of 118 current House members said they support abolishing the law, nearly all of them Democrats. On the other side, 13 representatives and six senators said firmly that they want the law to remain.
But the survey doesn’t give a clear answer about the likelihood of undoing the law. In both chambers, those giving a “yes” or “no” were outnumbered by those on the fence or declining to participate.
“It’s going to be a heavy lift. I hesitate to comment one way or another without seeing a specific proposal,” said Republican Rep. Josh Dobson, who represents mountain counties.
About 10 Republicans in each chamber said they were open to finding a solution but would have to see what’s included in a repeal bill. The survey was conducted over the opening days of this year’s legislative session.
Many Republican lawmakers likely are keeping their views private to discourage squabbling, said Republican Mike Hager, who served as house majority leader before leaving the legislature last year. The House Republican Caucus has been divided over repeal legislation.
Hager also said many GOP legislators from rural, socially conservative areas are torn between concerns about HB2 hampering economic activity and the desire to protect bathroom privacy and respect religious views.