The Latest: North Carolina governor signs bill

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Posted: Mar 23, 2016 10:34 PM
The Latest: North Carolina governor signs bill

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on North Carolina lawmakers returning to work to address Charlotte's ordinance that lets transgender people choose men's and women's bathrooms according to the gender they identify with (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed legislation designed to rein in local governments passing their own anti-discrimination rules.

McCrory's office confirmed he signed the law late Wednesday night, hours after the legislature finalized the bill in a one-day work session.

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh because a Charlotte City Council ordinance was supposed to take effect April 1 that expanded protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for treatment at hotels and restaurants.

Critics focused on the ability of transgender people to use the bathroom or locker rooms aligned with their gender identity. So did McCrory, Charlotte's mayor for 14 years.

The resulting legislation went further. Now cities, towns and counties can't pass anti-discrimination rules beyond a new state standard. And public schools, public college campuses and government agencies must require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex.

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8:05 p.m.

A spokesman says North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory will sign a bill designed to rein in local governments passing their own anti-discrimination rules.

Communications Director Josh Ellis said he anticipated McCrory would sign the measure into law Wednesday night. The legislature earlier in the evening finalized the bill, which was a response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance that expanded protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill goes beyond blocking a provision that lets transgender people in the state's largest city use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity. It would stop Charlotte's broader anti-discrimination measure and similar rules approved on a local level in the future.

The actions would deal a blow to an LGBT movement that has had success with similar measures in other cities.

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6:50 p.m.

Democrats in the North Carolina Senate walked out rather than debate legislation aimed at blocking a Charlotte ordinance protecting transgender people from discrimination.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said Democrats were shut out of shaping statewide legislation he called a farce. He accused Republicans of calling Wednesday's special session under the pretext that emergency action was needed to stop the Charlotte ordinance before it took effect. Blue says the state could have gotten a judge to block the ordinance until lawmakers assemble for their regularly scheduled annual session next month.

Eleven Democrats walked out before the Senate voted 32-0.

Senate leader Phil Berger says the walkout was unprecedented in his 15 years in office. He says Democrats breeched their obligations to voters.

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6:35 p.m.

North Carolina legislators have passed a bill that prevents local governments from setting their own anti-discrimination rules.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly took action Wednesday in a special session after the Charlotte City Council recently approved a broad anti-discrimination measure that allows transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.

The Senate voted for the measure hours after the House passed it by a wide margin. It now goes to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. His office didn't immediately respond to requests about whether he will sign the measure.

An enacted bill would be a blow to the LGBT movement after success with similar anti-discrimination measures in more than 200 cities nationwide.

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3:10 p.m.

Legislation preventing North Carolina local governments from approving their own regulations covering sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination has cleared one chamber of the General Assembly.

The state House voted Wednesday for a measure created after Charlotte leaders voted for an ordinance last month. Critics of the ordinance say North Carolina's largest city went too far, especially with rules that let transgender people use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity. They say it could open the door to any man entering women's restrooms.

House Democrats criticized the legislation as turning away protections to citizens who need it most.

The bill next goes to the Senate, where final passage is likely. Any final legislation would go to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.

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1:40 p.m.

Legislators are hearing from North Carolina residents supporting and opposing a state law aimed at halting Charlotte's new ordinance that lets transgender people use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity.

Sixteen-year-old Chloe Jefferson of Greenville said Wednesday if Charlotte's model was copied by other North Carolina cities, she wouldn't feel safe using public bathrooms. She says changing clothes in front of other teenage girls is intimidating enough, but having a student who is biologically a boy in a school locker room would be worse.

She spoke in a committee meeting along with software engineer Madeline Goss of Raleigh. Gross says she was bullied while growing up in Hickory, and a lot of that happened in the men's bathroom. She says the men's room is unsafe for transgender people like her, and she's not going to go back.

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10:50 a.m.

The North Carolina legislature has reconvened to consider halting Charlotte's new ordinance that lets transgender people use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The General Assembly also will consider preventing other cities or counties from passing similar rules in the future, which could roll back a success for the LGBT movement.

The House and Senate gaveled in Wednesday morning. Lawmakers brought themselves back to work a month earlier than scheduled to act before Charlotte's ordinance begins April 1.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is taking up legislation to direct all public schools, government agencies and University of North Carolina and community college campuses to require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex.

The bill also prevents local governments from passing ordinances that prohibit discrimination beyond a state standard based on race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex.

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4:30 a.m.

North Carolina lawmakers are heading back to work to consider halting Charlotte's new nondiscrimination ordinance before it takes effect April 1.

Republican General Assembly leaders scheduled a one-day special session Wednesday after enough lawmakers requested to reconvene now instead of waiting until late April. They're responding to worries from constituents and conservative activists about provisions related to transgender people and restrooms.

Proposed legislation is expected to go beyond pre-empting Charlotte's ordinance by stopping other towns, cities and counties from passing their own nondiscrimination rules based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gay-rights groups say the repeal effort is wrong and would deny gays and lesbians, bisexual and transgender people essential protections at public accommodations like hotels and restaurants.

Any legislation would go to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.