North Carolina Gov. Cooper says HB2 a ‘dark cloud,’ urges repeal

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WAVY) — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is asking North Carolina legislators to repeal the state’s “bathroom bill,” saying the law known as House Bill 2 is “the dark cloud hanging over our state of promise.”

The new governor made the comments Monday night while giving his first “State of the State” address to a joint session of the House and Senate in Raleigh.

“The law has damaged our state. The legislature must erase this law from our books. Pass a bill to repeal House Bill 2 and I will sign it the same day. Pass a compromise repeal that works to eliminate discrimination and brings back jobs and sports and entertainment  and I will sign it as long as it truly gets the job done,” Cooper said in his address.

The GOP-controlled legislature passed the law last year that limits LGBT rights and which restrooms transgender people can use in schools and other government buildings.

Cooper said North Carolina citizens are sick of hearing about the law and said it drains energy from the other work elected officials should be doing.

“Let’s do it this week. It’s time to move on. Now House Bill 2 might be a dark cloud but even the darkest clouds roll over and I believe we are a state of promise at our core,” Cooper said.

The Republican leader of the North Carolina Senate called Cooper’s vision for the state a “mirage” that would return the state to “our troubled past” of excessive government spending and high jobless rates.

Senate leader Phil Berger has led the chamber since 2011. He pre-recorded a Republican response to Cooper’s State of the State address that highlighted GOP accomplishments and blasted Cooper, liberal interest groups and the media.

Berger says Cooper talks a lot about compromise but blames Cooper for urging Democratic lawmakers to oppose recent legislation to do away with the state’s “bathroom bill,” or House Bill 2.

“Governor Cooper talks often of compromise, but works behind the scenes to kill real compromises. Like he did in December, when he ordered Senate Democrats to vote against a repeal of House Bill 2. And like he did earlier this month when he slammed the door on a bipartisan state House proposal to repeal House Bill 2 supported by our state’s business community,” Berger said.

At least two compromises to do away with HB2 have fallen apart since December amid partisan rancor.

Cooper said those bills either wouldn’t work or fell short of what was needed.

Berger derided the Left for organizing “vulgar rallies” and for criticizing Republicans as dishonest, immoral and bigoted.

WAVY-TV 10 contributed to this report.