RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper proposed Tuesday what he called a compromise to repeal the state's so-called bathroom bill, saying a new measure is designed to allay fears over public bathroom safety.
A spokesperson for a leader of the Republican-controlled legislature immediately suggested it didn't go far enough, citing privacy concerns in a signal that any agreement between the governor and legislators still wasn't near.
The law, known as House Bill 2, triggered backlash from businesses and LGBT advocates who say it's discriminatory because it requires transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from local and statewide anti-discrimination protections. A federal trial to decide HB2 is scheduled to begin later this summer.
Cooper's proposal comes as New Orleans welcomes the NBA All-Star game this weekend. The city of Charlotte was supposed to host the multimillion-dollar event, but the NBA moved the game after the law was passed. The NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference also moved several sporting events in the state and businesses such as PayPal decided not to expand in North Carolina.
Cooper said his compromise "will bring back the NCAA, it will bring back the ACC, the NBA and it will bring back jobs."
The proposal does away with House Bill 2 and increases penalties for crimes in public bathrooms, the governor said at a news conference with the top Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. It would also tell local governments seeking ordinances covering sexual orientation and gender identity to give legislators 30 days' notice before doing so. Bills detailing the proposal were to be filed later Tuesday.
The office of one Republican General Assembly leader scoffed at the plan.
It does "nothing to address the basic privacy concerns of women and young girls who do not feel comfortable using the bathroom, undressing and showering in the presence of men," said Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger.
In December, an apparent deal between Cooper and the GOP-controlled legislature to repeal HB2 collapsed. Interest picked up in recent days after a statewide sports development association warned legislators in a letter that action must be taken very soon or the state would be disqualified from hosting NCAA events for the next five years.