Gov. Pat McCrory could call lawmakers into session as soon as next week to repeal House Bill 2 – but only if the Charlotte City Council first drops the ordinance that prompted it, his office confirmed Friday.
The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association has been working to broker a compromise to stop the economic damage from HB2, which this week included the loss of major NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference sporting events.
Losing the games is expected to cause an economic loss of tens of millions of dollars.
“Our industry and the hospitality industry at large has been collateral damage in this,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the restaurant group. “It’s obviously been impacting our businesses and employees. We’ve chosen to have a seat at the table rather than have an adversarial role.”
A McCrory spokesman said the governor is willing to call lawmakers back.
“For the last nine months, the governor has consistently said state legislation is only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remains in place,” said spokesman Josh Ellis. “If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers … the governor will call a special session.
“It is the governor’s understanding that legislative leaders ... agree with that assessment.”
But repealing the Charlotte ordinance, which broadened LGBT protections before it was nullified by HB2, would meet resistance. One gay rights spokeswoman Friday called the proposed compromise “the same cheap trick” lawmakers have floated before. It’s unclear whether the council would have the votes to repeal its ordinance.
It’s also unclear whether businesses would return to North Carolina if the compromise involved Charlotte giving up legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. And a deal might not end the legal challenges.So we're back to where we were when the Charlotte city ordinance was passed: McCrory will end the bill as long as Charlotte makes it legal again to fire people for being gay, and it only cost the state $100 million.
Hopefully it will cost McCrory the election, too.