RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers rolled back North Carolina's
"bathroom bill" Thursday in a bid to end the backlash over transgender rights that
 has cost the state dearly in business projects, conventions and basketball tournaments.
The compromise plan, announced Wednesday night by the state's Democratic
 governor and leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature, was worked out
 under mounting pressure from the NCAA, which threatened to take away more
 sporting events from the basketball-obsessed state as long as the law, also 
known as House Bill 2, remained on the books.
The new measure cleared the House and Senate in a matter of hours and was
 sent to Gov. Roy Cooper. He signed it Thursday afternoon.
Among other things, it repeals the best-known section of HB2: a requirement
 that transgender people use the public restrooms that correspond to the sex 
on their birth certificate.
But the American Civil Liberties Union and gay and transgender activists 
complained that the new bill still denies them certain protections from
discrimination, and they demanded nothing less than full repeal.
As a result, it was unclear whether the retreat from the year-old HB2 would
 stop the boycotts or satisfy the NCAA. An NCAA spokeswoman didn't
 immediately respond to a message seeking reaction.
Republican Rep. Scott Stone, who lives in Charlotte, urged his colleagues to
 vote for the new bill. It passed the House 70-48.
"We are impeding the growth in our revenue, in our ability to do more things
 for tourism, for teacher pay, while we have this stigma hanging over," Stone 
said. "The time has come for us to get out from under the national spotlight
 for negative things. You can't go anywhere on this planet without somebody
 knowing what is HB2 and having some perception about it."
Conservatives, meanwhile, staunchly defended HB2 and bitterly denounced
 the new measure.
"This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a betrayal of principle," Republican 
Sen. Dan Bishop, a primary sponsor of HB2, said on the Senate floor as the
 rollback was approved 32-16, with nine of 15 Democrats among the yes votes.
While the new measure eliminates the rule on transgender bathroom use,
 it also makes clear that state legislators — not local government or school
 officials — are in charge of policy on public restrooms.
HB2 had also restricted local governments' ability to enact nondiscrimination
 ordinances on behalf of gay or transgender people. Under the new measure,
 local governments can't pass any new protections for workplaces, hotels and
 restaurants until December 2020.
That moratorium, according to GOP leaders, would allow time for pending 
federal litigation over transgender rights to play out.
"This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been 
discussed and discussed and discussed in North Carolina for a long period 
of time," Senate leader Phil Berger said. "It is something that I think satisfies
 some people, dissatisfies some people, but I think it's a good thing for North
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Gay rights activists blasted the proposal, saying it was not a true repeal.
"It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you vote for this
 bill, you are not a friend of the LGBT community," Equality North Carolina 
executive director Chris Sgro said. "You are not standing on the right side
 of the moral arc of history or with the civil rights community."

James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project, said lawmakers "should
 be ashamed of this backroom deal." ''This is not a repeal of HB2. Instead,
 they're reinforcing the worst aspects of the law," he said in a statement.
Cooper was elected in November on a platform that called for repeal of 
HB2, which enacted under the man he defeated, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
The deal came together after the NCAA warned that North Carolina wouldn't 
be considered for championship events from 2018 to 2022 unless HB2 was 
changed. The sports governing body said it would start making decisions on
 host cities this week and announce them in April.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said that he hadn't spoken directly to
 the NCAA but that he had been told by business leaders who served as
 intermediaries that the bill should prove acceptable to the NCAA.
The NCAA already pulled championship events from the state this year 
because of HB2. Also, businesses canceled expansions or moves to North 
Carolina, the NBA withdrew its All-Star Game from Charlotte, and entertainers 
such as Bruce Springsteen canceled concerts.
An Associated Press analysis (http://apne.ws/2ocOSnu) this week found
 that the law would cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business

During impassioned debate on the House floor, conservatives accused
 their colleagues of caving in to pressure from sports leagues.
Republican Rep. Bert Jones sarcastically suggested that the banners
 outside the building be replaced with a flag of the NCAA and the white
 flag of surrender.
And GOP Rep. Carl Ford said: "If we could have props in here, I'd take a
 basketball covered in money and roll it down the middle aisle there. 
Because that's what this is about: money and basketball. My family is not
for sale. My constituents are not for sale."
HB2 supporters argued that the bathroom law was needed to preserve
 people's privacy and protect them from sexual predators. Opponents said
 that was nonsense and that the danger was imaginary.