Republican legislators and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) are struggling to come to an agreement to reverse the state’s anti-LGBT law, known as HB2, as a deadline set by the NCAA for its repeal fast approaches.
The NCAA has said that it will not hold championship games in the state until lawmakers repeal the law, which bars local non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prohibits transgender people form using the public bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. A local sports event planner confirmed Tuesday that lawmakers had just 48 hours to repeal HB2 before the collegiate league decides on championship locations through 2022.
Lawmakers have been under pressure to repeal the law in part because if its negative economic impact on the state, as sports leagues and businesses have shunned North Carolina over the anti-LGBT legislation. The Associated Press published an estimate this week that the law will cost the state more than $3 billion in lost business over 12 years.
The NCAA ultimatum prompted Republican leaders in the state legislature to call a press conference on Tuesday evening, where they claimed to have reached a deal with the governor.
“The governor made a proposal late last week that we are prepared to agree to in principle,” Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (pictured above) said at a press conference, according to the Charlotte Observer.
But he added that the governor “now denies that he ever made the proposal.”
“We’re not sure where we are right now, quite frankly,” Berger said, per the Charlotte Observer.
Democrats quickly confirmed that a deal had not been reached and blasted the Republicans’ press conference as a “stunt.” The governor’s office also said that Republicans insisted on a religious freedom provision not backed by Democrats.
“It’s frustrating that Republican leaders are more interested in political stunts than negotiating a compromise to repeal HB2. While Governor Cooper continues to work for a compromise, there are still issues to be worked out, and Republican leaders’ insistence on including an Indiana-style RFRA provision remains a deal-breaker,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in a statement. “Any compromise must work to end discrimination, repair our reputation, and bring back jobs and sports, and a RFRA is proven to do just the opposite.”
Following their press conference, Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore went to the governor’s mansion, but it’s still unclear whether the two sides were able to work out a compromise.
Republican leaders said the proposal they support would repeal HB2, allow the state to regulate public bathrooms as it did before the law was enacted, and allow local governments to pass non-discrimination ordinances that are aligned with federal law, which does not explicitly protect LGBT individuals, according to ABC 11.
Lawmakers in North Carolina already have tried and failed several times to repeal the law, so it’s unclear that the Republican-led legislature will be able to reach a compromise with the new Democratic governor at all, let alone by the NCAA’s Thursday deadline.