Updated at 4:37 p.m.

RALEIGH — North Carolina's outgoing Republican governor says that he will call legislators for a special session Wednesday so they can repeal the law known as HB2, which limits LGBT protections.

Gov. Pat McCrory issued a video statement Monday. Earlier in the day, he confirmed he would call a special session.

Republican legislative leaders say they'll take up the repeal.

The statewide law known as HB2 requires people to use restrooms in many public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates and excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide antidiscrimination protections.

Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper first gave word that the special session was happening.


Updated at 2:27 p.m.

RALEIGH — North Carolina leaders struck a deal Monday to kill the state law widely derided as the "bathroom bill," after it tarnished the state's reputation, cost it scores of jobs and contributed to the Republican governor's narrow loss.

Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper announced Monday that legislators will hold a special session to repeal the law known as HB2 that limits protections for LGBT people. HB2 requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings and excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from antidiscrimination protections.

Undoing the law would be a step toward mending political divisions that remain raw well after Election Day. Just last week, lawmakers called a special session to strip Cooper of some authority before he takes office next month.

The state's Republican leaders confirmed they're open to repealing the measure, but in a sign of lingering acrimony, they accused Cooper of taking too much credit for winning their cooperation.

The passage of HB2 in March thrust North Carolina into a national debate on transgender rights and harmed the state economically. The state missed out on new jobs as companies declined to expand in the state, while cancellations of concerts and conventions exacted a toll. And in a huge symbolic blow to the basketball-crazy state, the NCAA and ACC relocated events.

Monday's surprising events began in the morning when the Charlotte City Council voted to undo a local nondiscrimination law enacted in early 2016. That ordinance, Republicans legislators say, challenged social norms and spurred them to pass HB2.

"Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte's vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full," Cooper said in a statement, adding: "I hope they will keep their word to me."

Outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory confirmed he would call lawmakers back to the Capitol in the final days of his term — but also accused Democrats of using the issue for political gain.

"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor's race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state," said McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor.

Democratic State Rep. Cecil Brockman (District 60, Guilford) released a statement applauding Gov.-elect Cooper's leadership.

“H.B. 2 was one of the most disastrous and damaging bills our state has ever seen. I am encouraged that there is an agreement guaranteeing its full repeal and showing that North Carolina is once again open for business. I applaud Governor-elect Roy Cooper for his strong leadership on this issue. While I believe the Charlotte City Council had every right to pass their ordinance, I am ready to work with stakeholders across the state to start from square one on a dialogue about protections for the LGBT community,” Brockman said in the statement.

Berger and Moore issued a joint statement saying they will take up a repeal if McCrory calls them into session, but accused Cooper of taking too much credit in his announcement.

They said Cooper and Charlotte's mayor "proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women's bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor's race."

Republicans have defended the bathroom provisions as providing privacy and safety by keeping men out of women's restrooms. Opponents call it discriminatory.

The law was also seen as a referendum on McCrory, who became its national face. He lost by about 10,000 votes while fellow Republicans U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and President-elect Donald Trump comfortably won the state. McCrory was the first sitting North Carolina governor elected to a four-year term to lose re-election.

After its vote Monday, the Charlotte City Council said it remains committed to protecting rights but that it was willing to work with the state to "restore our collective reputation."

"The Charlotte City Council recognizes the ongoing negative economic impact resulting from the passage of the City's Non-Discrimination Ordinance and the State's House Bill 2," the statement said.

The council's move is contingent on North Carolina fully repealing HB2 by Dec. 31.

Republicans have said the Charlotte ordinance had to go first before they would consider getting rid of HB2.

A repeal of the state law could also end protracted legal challenges by the federal Justice Department and transgender residents. Much of that litigation has been delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court hears a separate Virginia case on transgender restroom access.

LGBT advocates were cautiously optimistic that the General Assembly would follow through with any repeal, but they also said antidiscrimination protection is an issue more important than politics.

"LGBT rights aren't a bargaining chip. Charlotte shouldn't have had to repeal its ordinance in exchange for HB2 to be repealed," Simone Bell, the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "LGBT people in North Carolina still need protection from discrimination."

___

Follow Drew at www.twitter.com/jonldrew


Updated at 11:51 a.m.

CHARLOTTE — Following a surprise move by the Charlotte City Council, Gov. Pat McCrory Monday called for a special session to consider a repeal of House Bill 2.

The governor’s statement came in a rapidly unfolding series of events that could signal the end of a nine-month drama that catapulted North Carolina into national headlines. HB 2, seen by critics as an anti-LGBT measure, prompted boycotts and cost the state millions in lost jobs.

Earlier, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said legislative leaders have promised to call a special session Tuesday.

“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.

“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’s statement followed the Charlotte City Council’s 10-0 vote Monday morning to rescind the LGBT ordinance that prompted HB 2.

Progress N.C. Action released a statement today in response to Charlotte's repeal of its nondiscrimination ordinance in exchange for the full repeal of HB2 by Dec. 31.

“We continue to support the full repeal of HB2, but we’ve also seen just in the past week that Sen. Berger and Speaker Moore have no intention of operating in good faith when it comes to special sessions,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action, in the statement. “In order to prevent this from turning into yet another partisan power grab, lawmakers must provide assurances that HB 2 will be the only issue lawmakers take up — and that they will not revisit the issue in the future once HB 2 is repealed.”

The council vote came after late night lobbying by Cooper himself. Council member Julie Eiselt said the governor-elect called her at 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

He said, “If we cleaned up our books that the General Assembly was motivated to call a special session to repeal (the law) and we felt this was our best opportunity,” she told the Observer.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts and council members had considered a similar deal earlier in the year but had rejected it. In May, council members voted against taking a symbolic repeal of its ordinance in hopes that the legislature would repeal HB2.

Roberts on Monday was in the difficult position of defending the repeal. She said the vote “should in no way be viewed as a compromise of our principles or commitment to non-discrimination.”

But earlier this year, and as recently as last week, the mayor said that LGBT rights weren’t negotiable. Local and national gay rights organizations had also adamantly opposed a symbolic repeal vote. The Human Rights Campaign said earlier this month that there should be no compromise between the city and the state.

A spokesman for McCrory blamed the city for the controversy.

“Gov. Pat McCrory has always advocated a repeal of the over-reaching Charlotte ordinance, but those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists,” spokesman Graham Wilson said. “This sudden reversal, with little notice after the gubernatorial election, sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense or Charlotte and our entire state.”

Republican council member Kenny Smith, who is considering running for mayor, said after Monday’s vote that the Democratic-controlled council was “playing politics” with the decision. He said the same deal has been available for months, but that council members waited until Republican Pat McCrory lost the governor’s election to Cooper.

The city’s repeal includes that language that says its nondiscrimination ordinance will be enacted again if the General Assembly doesn’t repeal HB 2 by Dec. 31.

Republican council member Ed Driggs said he’s worried legislators will see that deadline as Charlotte dictating to Raleigh. He proposed that the Dec. 31 deadline be removed, but his motion failed.

Some business leaders were surprised but happy at the news. Maxwell Hanks, a broker with Spectrum Properties leasing the new 300 South Tryon office building, said HB2 has been hurting business recruitment in the state

“I think on a go-forward basis rescinding HB 2 will be a great way to close out 2016 and start 2017,” said Hanks. He said the move would be a “reset,” and that it would help him and other brokers lure companies to move to the state.

State Rep. Chris Sgro, a Guilford County Democrat who is president of Equality NC, said the ball is with the General Assembly. Sgro said earlier this month that he opposed any compromise and that the General Assembly should repeal HB2 without the city repealing its ordinance.

“I firmly believe that Roy Cooper, Jennifer Roberts and the majority of city council are committed to winning the full complement (of rights) for LGBT people both in Charlotte and across the state,” he said. “All eyes…are on Raleigh watching for the General Assembly to do the right thing.”

There was no advance notice that the ordinance would be discussed at the city council meeting. WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, was the first to report it.

The city charter allows the manager or mayor to place any item on the agenda — even without public notice first.

Roberts said voters feelings about the issue have been known and voiced. But when the issue was last discussed, many in the LGBT community urged the city not to repeal its ordinance.

“The community always has a chance to weigh in,” Roberts said. “There will be much more conversations about equality.”

Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles said council members would try in 2017 to pass some LGBT protections, though it’s unclear what they would be.

It’s possible the state might allow Charlotte to pass legal protections for gay and lesbians in places of public accommodation, but any new ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity would likely be rejected again by legislators.

Some Democratic council members have long said they don’t want to “leave the transgender community behind.” But if there are future protections, the city will likely be forced to do just that.

There is no indication that there is, or isn’t, a quid pro quo with the General Assembly.

There have been attempts to broker a compromise in which the city would rescind the ordinance passed earlier this year that extends non-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community and the legislature would repeal HB2.

By itself, the move will not have any immediate impact on the status of lawsuits against the law by the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups.

That, however, could change on Tuesday when the General Assembly is expected to go back into special session to rescind the law, which has cost the state thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in industrial expansions, concerts and sporting event, and has placed North Carolina center stage in a divisive culture war.

UNC law professor Maxine Eichner, an expert in LGBT matters, said if the General Assembly follows through with the removal of HB 2, the opposing sides in the court fights could both ask that the cases be dropped. Or the courts could rule that the lawsuits are now moot.

———

©2016 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Updated at 11:21 a.m.

North Carolina's outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory says he will call a special session so that legislators can repeal a law limiting protections for LGBT people.

McCrory issued a statement Monday not long after the state's incoming governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, said that legislators plan to come back Tuesday for a special session to repeal the law.

The statement criticizes the Charlotte law that Republicans have blamed for the need to pass HB2. Charlotte voted Monday to repeal its local ordinance.

The governor's statement says: "As promised, Gov. McCrory will call a special session."


Updated at 11:09 a.m.

RALEIGH — North Carolina legislators will repeal the contentious HB2 law that limited protections for LGBT people and led to an economic backlash, the state's incoming governor said Monday.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper made the announcement shortly after the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its own local ordinance enacted in early 2016. It was that ordinance that Republicans blamed for the statewide law.

"Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte's vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full. I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full," the Democrat said in a statement.

The repeal would be a remarkable sign of cooperation for the incoming governor and the GOP-controlled legislature. Just last week, lawmakers called a special session and stripped Cooper of some of his authority when he takes office next month.

Spokesmen for Gov. Pat McCrory didn't immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Media representatives for the state's Republican legislative leaders also didn't immediately respond.

The Charlotte council's move is contingent on North Carolina legislators fully repealing HB2 by Dec. 31.

HB2 requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide antidiscrimination protections.

McCrory and lawmakers have defended the bathroom provisions as providing privacy and safety by keeping men out of women's restrooms. Opponents of the law call it discriminatory.

Since HB2 passed in March, North Carolina has suffered a backlash that has included companies declining to expand in the state and cancellations of rock concerts. The NCAA and ACC have also moved college sports events out of the state.


Updated at 10:45 a.m.

RALEIGH — North Carolina's incoming governor says that legislators are planning to hold a special session to repeal a law limiting protections for LGBT people.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper issued a statement Monday. Cooper says legislators plan to hold the session on the law known as HB 2 on Tuesday because Charlotte repealed a local nondiscrimination ordinance that Republicans blamed for the statewide law.

The Charlotte City Council met Monday to repeal the ordinance enacted in early 2016.

However, the Council's move is contingent on North Carolina legislators fully repealing HB2 by December 31.

The statewide law known as HB2 requires people to use restrooms in many public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates and excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide antidiscrimination protections.


Charlotte City Council voted today to repeal a controversial non-discrimination ordinance, commonly known as the ‘bathroom’ ordinance.

According to the Charlotte Observer, council met earlier today with Charlotte-area lawmakers.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper released a statement about the repeal:

"Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte's vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full. I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.

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

The ordinance, which was pushed through in early 2016, required businesses to allow people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Read more here

Rep. Cecil Brockman released the following statement on a potential special session to repeal H.B. 2:

 

“H.B. 2 was one of the most disastrous and damaging bills our state has ever seen. I am encouraged that there is an agreement guaranteeing its full repeal and showing that North Carolina is once again open for business. I applaud Governor-elect Roy Cooper for his strong leadership on this issue.

 

While I believe the Charlotte City Council had every right to pass their ordinance, I am ready to work with stakeholders across the state to start from square one on a dialogue about protections for the LGBT community.”

 

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