Under the Dome

Dome: Voters dislike midnight legislative action

STAFF WRITERJanuary 10, 2012 

About two-thirds of North Carolina voters think taking legislative votes in the middle of the night is inappropriate, according to a poll released Monday by a liberal advocacy group.

The survey - conducted days after Republican leaders held a special session at 12:45 a.m. Thursday that scored political points against the state's teachers lobby - found the General Assembly's approval rating at 16 percent, far below a similar survey in December. More than 50 percent disapprove of the GOP-led legislature.

"North Carolina voters are not happy with lawmakers who are out of control," said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC, which is critical of the Republican legislative leadership, particularly on the topic of education funding. The group commissioned Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm in Raleigh, to conduct the poll of likely voters. Its margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

Separately last month, PPP found legislative Republicans had a 29 percent approval rating with 48 percent disapproving of their performance. Democrats had a 36 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable ratings.

The ratings fall along partisan lines, with moderates and liberals disapproving. But the partisan breakdown for the question about taking votes in the middle of the night is much different: All ideological groups disapprove of the practice, including about 57 percent of those who identify themselves as "somewhat conservative" and 59 percent of those who say they are "very conservative."

Into Africa

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan are part of congressional delegation visiting Africa, including holding a meeting with U2 singer and AIDS activist Bono in Ghana.

Burr, a Republican, and Hagan, a Democrat, are two of six senators and a congressmen who arrived Thursday and will be there through Friday, The Daily Republic of Arizona reports.

Besides Burr, the delegation includes Sens. John Thune of South Dakota, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Kay Granger of Texas.

Besides meeting with Bono, the group met with Joshua Bolten, former chief of staff to President George W. Bush, who joined the delegation and Bono to see the progress made in fighting AIDS at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, according to ONE, a grassroots advocacy group.

The Senate is in recess until Jan. 23. The trip has been kept under wraps for security reasons.

Low marks

The N.C. League of Conservation Voters said the last session of the legislature had the worst score on environmental issues since they began keeping scorecards in 1999.

The average score in the state House for the 2011 session was 43 percent, compared to 67 percent for the 2009-10 session.

The state Senate average was 27 percent, compared to 69 percent in the 2009-10 session.

"Legislators in the 2011 long session made poor choices when it comes to protecting our natural resources and quality of life," said Dan Crawford, director of government relations for the council. "With North Carolina consistently ranking at the top of lists for best places to live and do business in the country, the legislators failed to realize the impact their decisions will have on our quality of life for the long-term."

Forest is in

Dan Forest, a Raleigh architect, formally announced his candidacy Monday for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. He said he plans to barnstorm across the state, visiting 30 counties in the next 10 days.

"I am seeking the office of N.C. lieutenant governor because we have a leadership crisis in North Carolina and need qualified business people to step up to the plate and lead."

Forest, son of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte, has been moving around the state for eight months.

Also seeking the nomination is Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Walter Dalton.

john.frank@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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