In a surprise move, the Charlotte City Council on Monday repealed the nondiscrimination ordinance that offered protections for LGBT people in the city but provoked a fight with the state legislature.
And today, the state legislature is scheduled to convene to discuss repealing House Bill 2, the law that undid Charlotte’s.
Here’s what you need to know about what happened.
Can you catch me up real quick?
Back in February, the City Council passed a new nondiscrimination ordinance that prevented businesses from refusing to serve LGBT people, and also allowed transgender people to use restrooms of their gender expression.
The state legislature, which had warned Charlotte that passing the ordinance would be met with reprisal, immediately convened and passed a sweeping law commonly known as HB2 that undid the ordinance.
The business world reacted harshly. Companies canceled expansions into North Carolina, sporting events left, and development took a hit.
Read more background here.
What specifically did the City Council do on Monday?
The council passed a new ordinance that removes a few bits of city code that have been pre-empted by state law. This includes the nondiscrimination ordinance, as well as a cable TV ordinance and the business privilege license tax. All were invalidated by the state legislature.
This essentially brings Charlotte ordinances back to what they were before February’s nondiscrimination ordinance.
Why would Charlotte do this?
There’s been a deal of sorts on the table for months, brokered by business interests tired of the toxic environment. It went like this: If the city rescinds its ordinance, the state legislature would repeal HB2.
The city seemed close to taking the deal back in September, but Mayor Jennifer Roberts put the kibosh on it.
But hasn’t the mayor said Charlotte wouldn’t back down?
Yeah. Her position has been that the state legislature should just repeal HB2. Roberts has said removing the nondiscrimination ordinance wouldn’t do anything since it’s already superseded by state law. She’s right about that, by the way.
So why change her mind?
It’s unclear exactly, but Roberts is feeling a lot of political pressure. Two prominent Democrats have already said they’re considering running against her for the mayor job, and both have taken a much softer line on negotiating with the state.
It can’t be a coincidence that the governor’s race just wrapped up.
No, and Governor-elect Roy Cooper was heavily involved in Monday’s decision. He immediately put out a statement saying General Assembly leadership had agreed to repeal HB2 “in full.”
Will that actually happen?
That’s the big question. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger pushed back on the notion that there was a “deal.” In the past, they’ve indicated that a full repeal was not on the table.
It’s possible that the state legislature could vote to only roll back parts of HB2, and it’s unclear where that would leave things.
So what happens next?
Gov. Pat McCrory has called for the state legislature to meet again tomorrow (Wednesday) to consider repealing the law.
“Like all of us, I look forward to that resolution and to working with our state legislators in the coming days,” he said in a video.