McCormick drops ‘bathroom bill’ after talk with AG and Harwell

State Rep. Gerald McCormick says he is withdrawing his controversial school “bathroom bill” after assurances from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that he already can and will step in with legal aid to smaller systems facing lawsuits over LGBT access policies, reports the Times Free Press.

“I’ve been informed by the Attorney General’s office that they already have the authority to help defend a local school system if they get involved in something they can’t handle with whatever legal assets they have,” the Chattanooga Republican said.

He added: “With that in mind, I think the bill is unnecessary as written now and I won’t be carrying it. My part of the concern has pretty much evaporated.”

McCormick’s introduction of the bill on the use of school restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities reignited a furor that began in Tennessee and a number of other states in mid-2016.

Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as Democrats condemned McCormick’s legislation. 

…Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, told reporters she and Chattanooga Republican were meeting later about the issue.

“Certainly I understand the public’s strong feeling on the issue, but I think we are in the correct place right now and our attorney general has already assured my office and the General Assembly should any of our local districts be sued on this issue he would defend them,” Harwell said.

Asked if she would urge McCormick to drop the legislation, Harwell said, “We’ll have a discussion.”

McCormick has said the original legislation was brought to him by David Fowler, a former Republican senator from Signal Mountain now head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which advocates on socially conservative issues.

UPDATE NOTE: Fowler says he’s found another legislator to succeed McCormick as sponsor “and we’ll disclose his name as soon as he’s ready for us to do so,” according to a TFP in a follow-up story.

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