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NC Leadership Drafts HB2 Changes Amid Pressure From NBA

WBTV's Nick Ochsner reporting.
New legislation drafted by leadership in the North Carolina House of Representatives seeks to walk back portions of a controversial bill passed during a special session this spring restricting the rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice.

House Bill 2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate, among other things. The bill was passed in a one-day special session and was signed by Governor Pat McCrory later that night.

Lawmakers said the legislation had to be pushed through the legislature before an ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council weeks earlier, which allowed individuals to use the bathroom of their choosing, took effect.

The bill’s passage ignited a firestorm of controversy that has captured national attention and prompted discussion on how best to accommodate transgender individuals.

Draft legislation obtained exclusively by On Your Side Investigates would walk back portions of the controversial bill.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to see the draft legislation obtained by WBTV

Among the draft bill’s biggest changes is the creation of an official document that would recognize a person’s gender reassignment. The new document, which is treated as the equivalent as a birth certificate in the draft legislation, is referred to as a certificate of sex reassignment.

“An individual who (i) was born in another state or territory of the United States that does not provide a mechanism for amending a current certificate of birth or issuing a new certificate of birth to change the sex of an individual following sex reassignment surgery and (ii) resides in this State at the time of the written application may request a certificate of sex reassignment from the State Registrar,” the legislation reads. “The State Registrar shall issue a certificate of sex reassignment upon a written application from an individual accompanied by a notarized statement from the physician who performed the sex reassignment surgery or from a physician licensed to practice medicine who has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.”

The draft bill also amends portions of HB2 related to protections for employees by adding specific references to federal statutes that provide special protections for certain groups of people. Other changes in the draft legislation increase the penalties for suspects convicted of committing certain offenses in a multi-person bathroom or changing facility.

A source familiar with the inner workings of the House Republican Caucus, where legislation is typically discussed prior to being introduced for debate by the full body, said caucus members had not yet been briefed on the legislation.

NBA All Star Game a driver for changes

The draft legislation is the result of months of conversations between leadership in the state legislature, including the Speaker's office, and officials from the NBA, On Your Side Investigates has learned.

Charlotte is set to host the 2017 NBA All Star Game, an event whose future has been uncertain since the passage of HB2 this spring.

A person with knowledge of the league's plans, who asked not to be identified to discuss details of the ongoing discussion surround the 2017 All Star Game's future in Charlotte, said passage of the proposed legislation would be a big step in helping the league to make the decision to keep the game in Charlotte.

The discussion have also included executives with the Charlotte Hornets, leaders from the City of Charlotte and other legislative leaders, the person said.

"What the league is looking for is for anyone to be able to use, at any All Star venue, the bathroom associated with their gender identity," the person said, adding that that goal extends to all venues used by NBA teams.

A spokesman for Speaker Tim Moore's office did not respond to a call or email requesting comment by press time.