RALEIGH, N.C. — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper urged lawmakers gathered Monday night to repeal the state’s “bathroom bill” very soon, saying the law is “the dark cloud hanging over our state of promise” by harming North Carolina’s economy and reputation.
Delivering his first State of the State speech as governor to the Republican-controlled legislature, Cooper almost immediately addressed the law known as House Bill 2, which limits LGBT rights and the restrooms transgender people can use in schools and other government buildings.
Cooper, the attorney general for the past 16 years, narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last fall with a platform that emphasized McCrory’s support for HB2. He said people are sick of the law and wondering whether “this heavy anchor weighing us down” will be cut away.
“The law has damaged our state. The legislature must erase this law from our books,” Cooper told House and Senate members gathered in the House chamber for the biennial gubernatorial speech. “It drains the energy from what should be our work for the people of this state.”
Cooper and GOP legislators also have been entangled over what to do about the law, which has caused some businesses and sporting events to spurn North Carolina in the name of fighting discrimination, leading to moving last month’s NBA All-Star game out of Charlotte and NCAA championships from the state this academic year.
Compromises have crumbled since December. Pressure has increased to find a solution before the NCAA soon decides whether to remove North Carolina locations from a bid to host championship events through 2022. Cooper wants a complete HB2 repeal, but Republicans say some additional restrictions are necessary.
“Pass a compromise repeal that works to eliminate discrimination and brings back jobs, sports and entertainment and I will sign it – as long as it truly gets the job done,” he said, adding “let’s do it this week. It’s time to move on.”