You may have heard yesterday that there may be some changes to HB 2.
WBTV in Charlotte posted “draft legislation” of something called the “Privacy, Dignity, and Safety for All Act,” which the station says was dreamed up by the House leadership. The bill creates “a certificate of sex reassignment” that trans people would have to carry around instead of a birth certificate—which definitely isn’t unconstitutional, weird, or reminiscent of Nazi Germany at all.
The bill, as presented, would also restore the state cause of action required to sue for employment discrimination, although it puts the power for that in the hands of the Human Relations Commission, a board whose members are appointed by the governor and which General Assembly Republicans were trying to strip funding from until they realized they needed it to defend themselves from the barrage of criticism they faced over HB 2.
Furthermore, the bill would establish an antidiscrimination task force, whose members are appointed by the Senate leader and the Speaker of the House, which would “consider instances in North Carolina of claims of discrimination in the area of employment, housing, and public accommodations.” Given who’s appointing them, it seems more likely this task force will prosecute the War on Christmas than discrimination against trans people.
According to WBTV, the main motivation for this move is to keep the 2017 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte.
A person with knowledge of the league’s plans, who asked not to be identified to discuss details of the ongoing discussion surround the 2017 All Star Game’s future in Charlotte, said passage of the proposed legislation would be a big step in helping the league to make the decision to keep the game in Charlotte.
The discussion have also included executives with the Charlotte Hornets, leaders from the City of Charlotte and other legislative leaders, the person said.
“What the league is looking for is for anyone to be able to use, at any All Star venue, the bathroom associated with their gender identity,” the person said, adding that that goal extends to all venues used by NBA teams.
WBTV got a draft of the bill, meaning it had no cosponsor or committee information listed, and Representative Darren Jackson tells the INDY that, as far as he knows, no Democrats had seen the bill before it wound up in the TV station’s hands. That raises plenty of questions. Here’s a big one: Who tipped off WBTV?
According to one high-ranking Democratic source, that person was none other than House Majority Leader Mike Hager, whom you might remember for his very public pantsing at the hands of talk show host and payday loan spokesman Montel Williams.
The INDY was unable to independently confirm that Hager was the source of the leak; however, our source says that last night, Representative Chuck McGrady, R-Hendersonville, whom the source says was involved in negotiations with the NBA, was planning on showing the bill to a group of House Democrats.
“Hager leaked it, probably to kill it,” the source says. “The version leaked was given to three members the night before: Hager and HB 2’s two cosponsors, [Paul] Stam and [Dan] Bishop. It was specifically leaked to a media source who has been critical of [Speaker] Tim [Moore] recently.”
(Nick Ochsner was the reporter who posted it; read this for more on Ochsner’s complicated history with Moore.)
Hager and Moore, it’s worth noting, both ran for speaker of the House in 2014.
“House leadership is pissed,” the source adds. Given Moore’s speakership style, the source says that it’s likely Moore didn’t want coverage of the “fix” until the Republicans were ready to pass it. The NC Values Coalition, one of the main groups pushing HB 2, called for its supporters to flood legislators with calls to stop changes to the bill; Moore probably would’ve rather avoided an organizing effort against the changes.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Representative Chris Sgro, D-Greensboro, the director of Equality NC, said that the bill was drafted “in the dead of night.”
“None of us can or should go home in good conscience,” Sgro said of the leadership’s plans to adjourn on Saturday, “with a bill that is destroying the reputation of our state and putting LGBT people at risk for discrimination remaining on the books.”
“You’ve seen time after time where they’ve put it out without [Democrats] seeing it,” the source says. “They’ve done that with tons of bills. HB 2 itself was pushed through quickly in one day like that.”
The Republicans, the Democratic source says, are supposedly meeting with Governor McCrory for lunch to discuss the leak. “The Republican leadership is desperately looking for something they can label a ‘fix,’” the source says. “My feeling is that if we see something, we won’t see it until it hits the floor.”
The formal legislation still hasn’t been posted to the General Assembly’s website; we’ll update with more information as it comes in.