The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law eliminating nondiscrimination provisions for LGBT individuals by city governments.
The action took place during a special session called by the legislature. It is the first time in 35 years that the body has called a special session.
The legislation was initially designed to create single-sex bathrooms in Charlotte in opposition to an ordinance passed by the Queen City's city council. The Charlotte ordinance allowed individuals to elect which bathroom to use.
The law passed Wednesday created the single-sex restrooms but also enacted a provision to strip municipalities of their authority to create nondiscrimination measures. The measure also mandates all public schools and college campuses to have bathrooms and locker rooms that are designated for people based on their "biological" gender. In addition, the bill also makes clear that local governments cannot require municipal contractors to pay workers above the current minimum wage.
The House passed the bill Wednesday afternoon. Democratic Senators left the chamber in protest and Republican Senators passed the bill 32-0 Wednesday evening.
Equality NC, an LGBT advocacy organization, called on Governor McCrory to veto the "worst anti-LGBT bill in the nation." One of the bill's co-sponsors, Republican representative Dan Bishop of Mecklenburg County, said the law creates continuity across the state. "We are regulating the field comprehensively. We are pre-empting the field," he said. "That means localities are not free to adopt a patchwork of inconsistent law, governing these business practices across the state."
"It’s a very interesting power struggle going on between cities and counties who are trying to what’s best for their citizens and what presumably the local citizens wants and then the state government and the state government that has taken a large role in what Republicans tend to take, in stepping in to local decisions," said David McLennan, professor of political science at Meredith College.
State lawmakers and local elected officials have sparred in recent years over control of the airport authority in Charlotte, drinking water in Asheville, and redistricting in Greensboro and Wake County. Like those instances, litigation will likely follow the law's passage. Shortly after receiving the bill Wednesday night, Governor McCrory signed it into law.
Host Frank Stasio talked with WUNC Capitol Bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the special session.