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Politics

Sen. Berger Sees 'No Need' To Revise HB 2, Backs Teacher Raises

Berger
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
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 State Senate Leader Phil Berger says he doesn’t envision any changes to House Bill 2 during the short session that begins Monday, including one revision requested by Gov. Pat McCrory. He also said he’ll push for a 2 percent state budget increase, including another round of teacher raises. 

Berger, a Republican from Eden, spoke to reporters at the statehouse Wednesday afternoon to preview the session. One of the main issues he addressed was House Bill 2.

"No I do not support repealing the bathroom safety bill," he said. 

He was referring to a section of the law that overturns Charlotte’s new anti-discrimination ordinance, which would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender identity. But HB 2 does more than that, including banning discrimination lawsuits in state courts and preventing local governments from setting their own minimum wages.

Even Gov. McCrory, who signed the bill, has called for revising the lawsuit ban. But Berger is resisting.

"I am not, as we stand here, ready to say ... and I don’t know that I would at any point be ready to say ...  that we’re going to make any changes. I just don’t see the need for it," Berger said.

Berger said HB 2 doesn’t do any of the things critics claim. He focused on the bathroom provision, repeatedly referring to it as the Bathroom Safety Bill. (It’s actually called the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.)

The Senate leader said he expects the state budget to be the major issue in the short session. He said state revenues appear strong again this year, and he supports a spending increase of 2 percent.

That could include another round of teacher raises. Berger said he supports the governor’s goal of raising the average teacher salary in North Carolina above $50,000. 

Berger also was asked about a plan by state Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville to file a bill to cancel the NCDOT's contract for toll lanes on I-77. Berger said he doesn't support changing the DOT's deal