Another House Bill 2 (HB2) repeal bill has been filed at the North Carolina General Assembly.
Should the bill pass both houses, it would be effective December 1, 2017. Since being passed, four attempts to repeal or compromise on HB2 have failed; all four by the hands of state Democrats.
House Bill 186 is titled, “Repeal HB2/State Nondiscrimination Policies.” The primary sponsors are Representative Chuck McGrady (R-117) along with Representatives Marvin Lucas (D-42), Ken Goodman (D-66), and Ted Davis (R-19).
Secondary sponsors are Representatives Bradford (R-98), Dulin (R-104), Faircloth (R-61), Fraley (R-95), G. Graham (D-12), Grange (R-20), Hanes (D-72), Hardister (R-59), Horn (R-68), Johnson (R-83), Malone (R-35), R. Moore (D-99), Murphy (R-9) and Ross (R-63).
The bill was filed on Wednesday, February 22nd, the same day that the Trump administration rescinded the Obama administration’s guidance letter which dictated that bathroom and locker room access would be allowed based on a student’s gender identity.
The revocation of the Obama administration guidance will arguably have ramifications for current North Carolina court case over HB2, as well as the potential for cases being heard by the Supreme Court such as Grimm v. Gloucester to be thrown out or returned to the lower courts.
Primary sponsor Rep. McGrady held a press conference that same day.
— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) February 22, 2017
— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) February 22, 2017
HB2 supporters, North Carolina Values Coalition, issues a press release on the new repeal bill and called for lawmakers to, “reject Representative McGrady’s misguided bill.” The release stated that this new repeal attempt does nothing to stop cities from passing another unlawful ordinance just like the one from the Charlotte City Council, which precipitated HB2.
The Governor issued a short statement on Twitter:
Governor Roy Cooper issued the following statement on H.B. 186: pic.twitter.com/FTPq6gYyhd
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) February 22, 2017
Governor Cooper, while still Attorney General running for Governor, was instrumental in killed two of four attempted compromises on HB2. During his campaign, Cooper also actively aided certain businesses in their attempts at economically blackmailing the state over HB2.
What does this new bill do?
Would repeal the old HB2 bill which is now law (S.L. 2016-99 and S.L. 2016-3). This means removal of the requirement of using the bathroom or facility which corresponds to the biological sex as determined on one’s birth certificate.
The opening of the bill contains two important pieces.
One states only the state has the authority to regulate access to multiple occupancy facilities. The other re-affirms that statement, but then gives a ‘preemption’ when a facility is, “owned or under the direct control of a city.”
The exact language of these two sections is as follows, emphasis added:
“Declaration. – The regulation of access to multiple occupancy bathrooms, to showers, and to changing facilities is a matter of general, statewide concern and the entire field of regulation of such access is preempted from regulation except as provided by an act of the General Assembly.”
“Preemption. –Only the General Assembly may regulate access to multiple occupancy bathrooms, to showers, and to changing facilities within the State, except where owned or under the direct control of a city.”
In other words, the state is barring a Charlotte style ordinance unless the facilities are directly owned or controlled by a city. This preemption language seems like a loop-hole. It is likely most towns and cities wishing to enact a Charlotte style ordinance will now be making sure all public facilities in their jurisdictions are 100% under their control.
The Equal Employment Practices Act will now be named Equal Employment and Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act. Stricken from this act is the language, “race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap”. Replacing that language is, “race, sex, national origin, citizenship, religion, age, veteran status, genetic information, pregnancy, handicap, or disability.”
Some are questioning how adding the term ‘citizenship’ will play out with regards to illegal immigrants. Also in question is the use of ‘genetic information’, as the bill itself does not define the parameters for the term.
The new list of criteria are applied throughout the rest of the bill to sections on investigations, employment, housing practices and to policies considered by higher education institutions like the State Board of Community Colleges and the UNC Board of Governors.
The bill addresses the authority of municipalities to adopt their own non-discrimination ordinances:
- The public must be given a minimum of 30 days notice of the proposal. Towns and cities can only pass such an ordinance with a majority vote of their governing board voting in favor of the ordinance.
- Any such non-discrimination ordinance would become effective 90 days after adoption by the city’s governing board.
- The only way to stop the ordinance from taking effect would be by petition, which has to be signed by at least 10% of the number of registered voters who cast a ballot in the most recent municipal election. However, that is not the end of the ordinance.
- If the override petition process is successful and validated, the county board of elections is then required to have referendum questions on the ballot during the next general or municipal election, whichever comes first.
There are exclusions from this adoption process which include religious institutions and charitable organizations such as non-profits.
New Penalties and Enhanced Sentences
The bill also includes a section on “Enhanced sentences” if someone commits offenses in a public facilities or in, “a place of public accommodations.” This section is similar to the proposal made by Governor Cooper, which was quickly dubbed a ‘look but don’t touch policy’.
The ‘enhanced penalties’ appear to indicate that for certain offenses occurring in a changing facility or public accommodation, that the offense is raised to the next level. For example, peeping and sexual battery are currently Class A1 misdemeanors, however if these acts occurs in public changing facility or accommodations listed in the bill, they become Class I felonies.
The offenses listed which will be covered by this include second degree forcible rape, second degree forcible sexual offenses, indecent exposure for purpose of arousing sexual desire, secretly peeping into room occupied by another person (including the taking of photographs without a person’s knowledge), taking indecent liberties with children and taking indecent liberties with a student.