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Only Rowan’s senators get a chance to vote on HB2 repeal

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY —  Called to Raleigh to repeal the controversial House Bill 2, only two of Rowan County’s four legislators on Wednesday actually had a chance to vote on a substantial bill.

Shortly before the General Assembly gaveled in its fifth special session of the year, the Charlotte City Council upheld its end of a gentleman’s agreement to repeal a nondiscrimination ordinance. Then, after spending a day in Raleigh, the NC General Assembly on Wednesday failed to repeal House Bill 2.

State senators were the only body of the General Assembly that voted on a repeal. Some specific details about a repeal actually led to a bipartisan group of senators preventing the repeal from moving into the State House. Democrats opposed a provision that would have prevented local governments from enacting measures related to employment practices, public accommodates or access to restrooms and changing facilities. A number of Republicans opposed a repeal altogether.

Of Rowan’s legislators, only Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, and Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25, voted on any substantial proposal. McInnis supported a repeal of House Bill 2. Brock opposed a repeal and delivered an impassioned speech during Wednesday’s special session.

During his speech, Brock focused on a partial repeal of Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance just days earlier. The Charlotte City Council failed to repeal all of its ordinance until Wednesday. Brock compared it to the famous moment in the Charlie Brown comics, where Lucy yanks a football away as Charlie Brown is preparing to kick the ball.

Brock called the earlier partial repeal a “political stunt.”

“There’s no way this way just a technicality at all to sit there and try to play games like this for so long,” Brock said in his floor speech. “This is the worst political stunt I have ever seen.”

At times, speeches by Brock and other Republicans drew audible groans from Democrats and others in the Senate chamber. Interrupted at one point during his speech by a fellow senator, Brock loudly proclaimed that he would not be yield to a question.

None of Rowan County’s other three legislators publicly spoke for lengthy amounts of time during Wednesday’s session. McInnis, however, has repeatedly said in interviews with the Salisbury Post that he’d be willing to vote for a repeal if Charlotte held up their end the gentleman’s agreement, which was a full repeal of the nondiscrimination ordinance.

When asked for a comment on Wednesday’s special session, State Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, said there really wasn’t much to talk about. However, Ford said he would not have voted to repeal House Bill 2.

“The House was only in session in chambers for 15 minutes,” he said in a text message.

Despite spending an entire day in Raleigh, members of the NC House spent most of their time in private caucus meetings. On Wednesday, Ford noted that the House never actually publicly considered anything substantial.

Rep. Harry Warren, R-77, has expressed similar sentiments as Ford, but didn’t respond to requests for comment.

It’s unclear whether a House Bill 2 repeal could come up in future sessions of the NC General Assembly, which will meet for its regular session in late January.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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