Wednesday, Feb. 22, House Bill 186 (HB186) was filed in the North Carolina legislature. It repeals House Bill 2 (HB2), “the bathroom bill.”
A number of bills dealing with HB2 have been filed, but what makes HB186 different is that it is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady, Democratic Rep. Marvin Lucas, Democratic Rep. Ken Goodman and Republican Rep. Ted Davis.
McGrady, who said in a press conference on Wednesday that he had been working on the bill for 10 months, is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which means he is a powerful member of the Republican Caucus.
The bill states that HB2 is repealed and that regulation of bathrooms, showers and changing facilities is the prerogative of the state legislature and cannot be regulated except as provided for by an act of the General Assembly.
McGrady noted that the bill doesn’t enact any laws regulating bathroom usage and it would put the state back where it was before the Charlotte ordinance and HB2.
The bill would prevent any city from passing an ordinance similar to the Charlotte ordinance which would start the whole mess all over again. But the bill does give cities the right to regulate the policies in city-owned facilities.
For Greensboro this would mean that the city could decide the bathroom, shower and changing facility policies at the Greensboro Coliseum.
HB186 also gives cities the right to expand the protected classes in the city. If a city council passes an ordinance expanding the protected classes, a referendum for repeal can be called for with a petition signed by registered voters equal to or more than 10 percent of the voters who voted in the previous municipal election.
McGrady, in the press conference said that this is giving cities the power to expand the protected classes, a power that cities don’t currently have.
McGrady made it clear that he did not see this as a take it or leave it bill and expected amendments to the bill to be considered. He said that the bill would go through the regular legislative process but that the legislature understood that if the bill were passed in July, the state might lose out on opportunities that it could take advantage of if the bill were passed in a timely manner.
McGrady said that he had been working closely with Gov. Roy Cooper’s office on the bill, but that Cooper had not seen the bill before it was filed.
McGrady said that when the legislators discovered at the special session in December that Charlotte had not in fact repealed its entire ordinance, a lot of trust was lost and certain provisions of the bill were there because of that lack of trust.
McGrady said that he would need Democratic and Republican votes to pass the bill and he didn’t think he would get votes from those on the far right or the far left, but he hoped there were enough votes in the middle to pass the bill and put the bathroom issue to rest.
When asked why he didn’t simply file a bill to repeal HB2, McGrady said, “I don’t have the votes for a straight up repeal.” He said he has been working to come up with a bill that hit the “sweet spot” that solved the problem and could also get the votes to pass the House and the Senate.
McGrady said that the increase in criminal penalties for crimes committed in bathrooms was something that a number of legislators wanted, and again it was something to help get the bill the votes needed for passage.
McGrady said that since he missed the special legislative session where HB2 was passed, he had not taken a position on that bill, so he was the logical choice to try and work out a compromise position that everyone could live with.
He noted that there was a big divide on this issue between legislators who represented rural districts and those that represented urban districts and he was trying to work with both sides.