The North Carolina House voted Wednesday to adjourn a special session without having repealed HB2, the controversial anti-gay law that Republican legislators had vowed to repeal in exchange for the city of Charlotte scaling back its own non-discrimination protections.
In the days leading up to Wednesday’s special session, Charlotte city councillors and Republican state legislators had seemingly reached a deal: If Charlotte scaled back its non-discrimination ordinance, Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature would repeal HB2. Among many other things, the law requires transgender individuals to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth.
However, early on Wednesday, the deal appeared to be crumbling. After Republicans grumbled that Charlotte had only repealed part of its non-discrimination ordinance, leaving in place protections for transgender contractors among other provisions, the Charlotte City Council met again to repeal that language as well.
When the city council first repealed the measure on Monday, it had passed only on the condition that the state legislature repeal HB2 by Dec. 31—but when the council met again Wednesday, it repealed the entire ordinance without imposing such a trigger.
Later in the day, state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger filed legislation that would repeal HB2 but also put in place a six-month “cooling period” that would prohibit any local ordinances regulating employment protections or public accommodations.
Democratic senators, whose votes would have been necessary to pass that legislation, were furious.
“This wasn’t the deal,” state Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, said on the Senate floor, according to The Charlotte Observer. “The deal was simple … this bill breaks that deal. Charlotte acted in good faith that we would keep our part of the bargain and it looks like we’re not going to.”
Democrats also expressed concern that the temporary cooling off period would be extended indefinitely by Republicans, who have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature.
As of 6 p.m. ET Wednesday, the state Senate had yet to adjourn.