Under the Dome

Dome: AG Roy Cooper says sheriffs still need to do mental health checks

Staff writersMarch 19, 2013 

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper on Tuesday urged that county sheriffs continue to be part of the safeguard of mental health checks when people are applying for concealed weapon permits.

A bill filed in the House last week would take that responsibility away from them, and let the federal instant criminal background check system catch applicants whose mental health records might disqualify them. Proponents of HB 310 say the sheriffs are inconsistent and arbitrary in how they check those records, if they do at all.

But Cooper said they provide a needed check. Sheriffs can request medical records, character affidavits, photo and other information.

“Sheriffs checking mental health information before issuing concealed weapon permits is a common-sense safety measure that should remain the law,” Cooper said in a statement. “Sheriffs know their communities and they should be able to do background checks on people who want to carry concealed weapons.”

McCrory’s DOT picks held up

Gov. Pat McCrory has picked 10 new members for the 19-member state Board of Transportation, and he’s hoping to seat them at the board’s next meeting April 4. But the governor could be forced to cancel the April meeting – just as he canceled the March meeting – because he still hasn’t submitted his appointee list to a legislative committee responsible for reviewing it.

McCrory did submit a letter March 1 to Denise Weeks, the principal House clerk, and he copied it to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger. But he didn’t send it to any members of the House-Senate Joint Transportation Oversight Committee, which is responsible under state law for reviewing the names.

The law says the new board members can take their seats after the oversight committee has had 30 days to review and comment on their names. The oversight committee rarely meets during a session of the General Assembly, so the new appointments usually become official after that 30-day review period.

McCrory’s office did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment, but committee members said they had not heard of any plans to consider the board appointees.

Now it appears there’s only one way McCrory will be able to swear in his new board members on April 4: Send the names to the members of the oversight committee ASAP, along with their disclosure statements reporting how much money his campaign received from the 10 people. That’s when the 30-day review period actually begins.

Then, since April 4 is less than 30 days away, he’ll need to persuade the committee to call a meeting right away, to provide the expected rubber-stamp approval of his new appointees.

And if he hurries, he can add two more names to fill vacancies left by the recent resignation of board chairman Bob Collier and board member Tripp Sloane, who has already been told he will be replaced.

Berger, Tillis attract notice

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis are making enough moves toward challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014 that they are attracting the attention of national Democrats.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is asking whether the two Republicans support U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. “Republicans in Washington are back with their Medicare-busting budget plan, but potential GOP Senate hopefuls Phil Berger and Thom Tillis have yet to tell North Carolinians where they stand,” starts a statement from the DSCC released Tuesday.

The Democratic push-back against Tillis and Berger mirrors recent statements challenging actual Republican candidates across the country.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, Bruce Siceloff and John Frank

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