North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger appears to have rejected Governor Roy Cooper’s latest effort at a compromise on HB2. Despite Cooper’s offer of an actually enforceable bathroom safety law plus a requirement that local officials give a month’s notice before moving to enact any kind of non-discrimination ordinances (two provisions that both the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina criticized), Berger derided the proposal. This is from the WRAL.com story:
“I don’t see this as a compromise,” he [Berger] said. “I don’t see this as anything different than what he’s been saying all along. I don’t know how you could say that that’s something we could build on.”
In a statement, Berger also continued to push Cooper on whether he believes men should be able to go into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities.
Rather remarkably, Berger now finds himself even to the right of the reliably reactionary News & Observer columnist J. Peder Zane. In a column in this morning’s N&O, Zane called HB2 “completely unnecessary” and observed that it addressed a “nonexistent problem.”
So, what to do? Is there anything Senator Berger would accept as a compromise on HB2? After a great deal of reflection and research here is our best take on what Cooper would probably have to do in order to secure an agreement with Berger on repealing the infamous law:
#1 – Endorse a Senate rule change altering Berger’s official title from Senate President Pro Tem to Senate President Rex Maximus Vitae (“supreme ruler for life”).
#2 – Agreeing to sign legislation that will expand the state Supreme Court to nine members and name Berger’s son, Appeals Court Judge Phil Berger Jr. and the senior Berger’s chief of staff, Jim Blaine, as the two new members. Both Berger Jr. and Blaine would also be allowed to continue in their current state-funded positions and neither would have to sign any court opinions if it made them feel uncomfortable. Oh, and Berger Jr. would have to be Chief Justice too.
#3 – Agree to sign legislation establishing a new military-style division in the SBI to be known as the North Carolina Restroom and Locker Room Gender Enforcement Force. Former State Rep. Paul Stam will serve as commander-in-chief and North Carolina Values Coalition director Tami Fitzgerald will serve as chief inspector. The NCRLRGEF budget would receive an annual appropriation of $100 million.
#4 – Agree to a new state law that would henceforth require all local government officials to sign a blood oath (in actual blood) upon taking office never to propose, pass or even think about proposing or passing a local ordinance that uses the terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
#5 – Agree to join Berger, Fitzgerald, Stam and the Rev. Franklin Graham on a national tour of conservative mega-churches at which Cooper would beg forgiveness and pledge to promote and fund “conversion therapy” for all people currently identifying themselves as LGBTQ.
#6 – Agree to a new law that would re-christen the Governor’s mansion as the “Senate President Rex Maximus Vitae Palace” and move Cooper and his wife to an office in the basement of the Legislative Building.
#7 – Arrange for the heads of the NBA, NCAA and ACC to commit to bring the all-star games and championships scheduled for the next five years to a 20,000 seat arena to be constructed in downtown Eden and dubbed the Phil Berger (right of) Center.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you apprised as to whether Berger adds any additional demands in the days ahead.