Update 2:10: Both the Senate and House have approved the retooled law in last-minute appeal to bring business back to the state.
Update 11:45 a.m.: The North Carolina Senate has voted in favor of the so-called repeal bill. It has moved on to the House.
North Carolina lawmakers have reached a compromise deal to repeal HB2, known as the “bathroom bill." The highly contentious bill struck down attempts to permit transgender individuals to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Lawmakers approving HB2 in 2016 cited “public safety” concerns, while critics saw the bill as a broad discriminatory measure against transgender individuals in the state.
The compromise deal repeals HB2. It also returns any regulation of bathroom access to the state level, effectively resuming the status quo before the city of Charlotte’s ordinance that would have expanded nondiscrimination protections to transgender individuals. Since this puts all power at the state level, the compromise means no municipality or institution would be able to ensure trans people have access to the bathroom of their gender identity.
The deal was reached between North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and two state lawmakers, Sen. Phil Berger and House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore.
“Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy,” the two Republican lawmakers said in a statement Wednesday.
But some rights groups are wary of the terms of compromise. Several LGBTQ activists and groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, held a news conference Wednesday citing concerns that returning regulation to the state level would effectively forbid any cities to offer their own protections to vulnerable groups.
The “bathroom bill” has been contentious since March 2016. The state’s house and senate passed HB2 in a special session in March, as a response to Charlotte’s attempted expansion of its nondiscrimination policies in February. The bill heavily influenced North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, and faced an attempted repeal in December.
In the last year, dozens of organizations — from Google, Apple, and Microsoft to the NBA, Bruce Springsteen, and Nick Jonas — have pulled their money from the state in protest of the bill. Word of the new deal reportedly came hours before the NCAA was set to pull any future championship basketball games from the state for the foreseeable future. And earlier this week, the Associated Press released analysis that North Carolina would lose an estimated $3.76 billion over 12 years as a result of lost business.
“It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” Cooper said.
Reuters contributed to this report.