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N.C. leaders reach compromise to repeal HB2

A compromise deal was announced late Wednesday.

North Carolina leaders have reached a deal to repeal the controversial bathroom access law known as HB2.

The bill required people to use locker rooms and bathrooms that match their sex at birth, and not the gender with which they identify. It also banned local governments (like a city council) from enacting their own ordinances that would say otherwise – so bathroom regulations could only be decided at the state level.

LGBTQ advocacy groups quickly decried the new law when it was passed in 2016, but supporters have called it a common-sense policy to protect the public's privacy.

Late Wednesday, after days of negotiating, North Carolina's Democratic governor and leading Republican legislators there struck a compromise on HB2, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

The compromise proposal repeals HB2. But it still bars state agencies, school boards, offices, departments – really any governmental group – from making their own bathroom laws, specific to their jurisdiction. (So that policy Charlotte passed after HB2 was enacted would be void, for example.)

This repeal also put a temporary ban on local governments enacting or changing ordinances regulating "private employment practices" or "public accommodations." That stipulation expires on Dec. 1, 2020.

The governor and lawmakers are pitching it as a compromise, but LGBTQ advocacy groups don't think it addresses enough. CNN has a story on that, as does the News and Observer.

The North Carolina House has to approve this compromise – that vote is expected Thursday morning. The state Senate has to have some votes on it as well before it gets to the governor and becomes official.

Update: The North Carolina House and Senate both approved the repeal Thursday, though with opposition, NBC reports. The governor has to sign it for it to become law, which he's expected to do.

So why the compromise now?

It's been hurting the state, since some big businesses and entertainers came down against HB2. Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen canceled concerts there, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans, and states like Minnesota banned employees from going there for nonessential business.

All told, research by The Associated Press found the bill could cost the state $3.76 billion in lost business over the next 12 years.

The NCAA meanwhile had previously moved college championship games out of the state due to HB2. And last week, the college athletics group told the state it will remove all North Carolina cities from consideration when hosting the next round of NCAA events if the law is not repealed, Business Insider reports.

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