January 9, 2017
As promised in my previous newsletter, now I want to give you my perspective on the fifth special session of the North Carolina General Assembly for 2016. This one was called to deal with a possible repeal of HB 2.
Gov. McCrory had made a deal with the Charlotte City Council that if they would repeal their ordinance over which we had passed HB 2, he would call the Legislature into a special session to consider repeal of HB 2. Let me say from the start, I was never part of any such deal, was never consulted about it, would never have agreed to it, and do not feel that I was or ever will be bound by it in any way.
Late in December, the Charlotte City Council tried to pull a fast one on us. They ostensibly passed a repeal of their ordinance, conditioned on our repeal of HB 2 by December 31, 2016. So the Governor, being true to his word, called the Legislature back into special session to consider a repeal of HB 2. Once we were in session, I joined Rep. Jeff Collins and Rep. Michael Speciale in protesting that session as unconstitutional. We considered it unconstitutional because there were no extraordinary circumstances to require us to be there, other than, perhaps, the Dec. 31 deadline that the Charlotte City Council sought to impose on the Legislature, which they do not have the authority to do.
Once we had a chance to get together in caucus, it was incrementally revealed to us that the supposed repeal of Charlotte’s offending ordinance was not complete. They did not repeal the whole thing. Therefore, we were called into special session under false pretenses on their part. As the evidence mounted that they were trying to hoodwink us, opposition to any repeal of HB 2 under those conditions began to spread among the Republican House Caucus until, eventually, even some of those of our number who want to repeal HB 2 were unwilling to continue to pursue the matter at that time, under those conditions. Eventually, our caucus voted not to move forward with such action. The majority of our members voted to gavel in, refuse to hear any bill to repeal HB 2, and adjourn sine die. Once Charlotte came to understand that they had been found out, they met again and enacted a full repeal of their ordinance, hoping we would move forward with our repeal. Those of us opposed to taking any such action argued that we were not called together by a full repeal of Charlotte’s ordinance, that they had no authority to set the Dec. 31 time limit on us, and that they should not be rewarded for their chicanery.
Meanwhile, when the Speaker had informed the Senate that we were not going to move a bill of repeal in the House, as originally planned, the Senate decided to take the initiative. They offered a bill that would repeal HB 2 and set a moratorium on any local government adopting anything like the Charlotte ordinance for six months. Eventually, they changed that to a moratorium for three months after the end of the upcoming long session of the General Assembly, and divided the bill into two votes. The first vote would be on the moratorium and the second would be on the repeal of HB 2. The vote on the moratorium passed the Senate.
With the moratorium approved by the Senate, the Democrats rejected the whole deal. Roy Cooper advised the Democrats that with the moratorium being approved, they should not vote for the repeal of HB 2. This is because a number of North Carolina municipalities were just waiting for HB 2 to be repealed so they could go ahead and adopt their own ordinances like the one Charlotte had adopted, and the moratorium would have interfered with that. Therefore, with only twenty Republican Senators voting to repeal HB 2, and all the Democrats voting no, along with fifteen Republicans, the bill failed to pass the Senate and was not sent over to the House. So we were able to adjourn without taking any action, which is what many of us in the House had hoped would happen.
I was very pleased with this result. However, I’m afraid this victory for common sense and common decency will be short lived. While some of those in our caucus who want to repeal HB 2 agreed not to take action under the circumstances of this special session, their idea is to consider it in the upcoming long session, when we can take more time to consider it more carefully, rather than doing things in a rush under the kind of pressure Charlotte was trying to put on us. So I fully expect that some of our Republican members will come back this long session and begin early on to push once more for repeal of HB 2. They will probably have to depend on the Democrats to give them a majority vote; but I’m afraid it will happen.
I will continue to oppose the repeal of HB 2, regardless of what effort or argument is made to do so. Many lies have been told about HB 2 and perpetuated by the liberal media. It is not HB 2 that has done some damage to business in North Carolina; it is the activism of the LGBTQ(WXYZ) crowd, like the so-called “Human Rights Commission” (HRC) and “Equality NC” (ENC) who have bullied and threatened business interests into opposing HB 2. Our economy has been thriving, no matter what they try to say about HB 2 driving business away, and the business losses we have suffered in relation to it amount to one percent or less in relation to our total economic growth.
You see, HB 2 does not tell any private business what policies they must adopt concerning their restrooms, shower rooms and locker rooms. Instead, it tells local governments in our State that they do not have the authority to dictate such policies to private businesses. That has been misrepresented time and time again. Contrary to what a lot of folks have been told, private companies are just as free under HB 2 to adopt whatever such policies they may wish, without government interference, just as they were before HB 2.
The problem is that if they choose to adopt the kind of policies Charlotte wanted to impose on them, they will lose business. So they would prefer not to have to make such decisions on their own, so that when customers complain, they can say, “We can’t help it. The government is making us do it.” It is very much like restaurant owners wanting the smoking ban that was passed several years ago so they could blame the government for not letting their patrons smoke.
Frankly, I don’t believe all business leaders really want to adopt the kind of policies Charlotte wanted to impose; but there is another problem: pressure and bullying from activist groups like the HRC and ENC. I believe a lot of business executives are pressuring us to repeal HB 2 only because of the bullying they receive from such groups. Well, I have been standing up to bullies ever since I was a kid on the playground. This case is no different; and I refuse to back down.
If we really care about those who identify as transgender, we should be offering them what they really need: psychiatric therapy and counseling, not hormone therapy and surgery. We should not turn a mental disorder into a constitutional right. If you tell me it is no longer on the list of mental disorders, I will tell you that this, also, is because of bullying by these leftist groups, seeking to undermine our society. Just because we change the definition of a thing does not change what it really is.
We did the right thing in HB 2. When you do the right thing, you should stand by it. The majority of our people across the State, about 62% in my district, agree with HB 2. They deserve the protection it offers our women and children. They also deserve to see that their Legislators have moral integrity and a backbone. I will vote no on any effort to repeal HB 2.
Rep. Larry G. Pittman
Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Chairman
Appropriations - General Government Vice Chairman
Education – K-12
—This legislative update originally appeared here. Reprinted with permission.