Under the Dome

Dome: McCrory favors pistol permits, abortion curriculum

June 29, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory, speaking in Greensboro on Friday, tipped his hand on a couple of controversial bills that could be headed to his desk for approval.

As reported by The Greensboro News-Record, McCrory said he wants county sheriffs to continue to issue pistol permits rather than leave background checks to the federal database system. He’s also in favor of requiring middle-school students be taught that abortion is a risk factor for premature births.

His remarks prompted NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina to issue a statement Saturday criticizing McCrory for his stance on SB 132, the classroom abortion bill. During the campaign for office, McCrory flatly said he would not support any new restrictions on abortion. NARAL calls it a restriction on accurate information about abortion.

“By signing this bill, Governor McCrory will be going back on his campaign promise and sending a message that he can’t be trusted to stick to his word,” Suzanne Buckley, executive director of the state NARAL chapter, said in the statement.

While there’s no doubt the bill is part of an anti-abortion strategy to chip away at women’s right to have the procedure, it’s a tougher argument to say SB 132 imposes any restrictions on abortion. There are other bills that would, but none of them have cleared the General Assembly yet.

The most far-reaching would require doctors remain on the premises until an abortion patient is released, and would require those doctors to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The bill has not moved from the Senate Rules Committee. Another would allow doctors to be fined heavily and sued if they perform abortions based on the gender of the fetus. That bill has cleared the House and is in Senate Rules.

Another would expand protection to health-care workers to refuse to perform abortions, and allow employers to decline to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. The bill has cleared the House and is in the Senate Insurance Committee.

Governor hires liaison

Jonathan D. Felts, a former top political aide to President George W. Bush, will start work shortly for Gov. Pat McCrory.

Felts, a North Carolina native and N.C. State University graduate, is being hired as senior adviser to bring experience and increased political savvy into the governor’s office.

The governor’s office, in making the announcement Friday, said Felts "will be the McCrory administration’s federal liaison with all cabinet agencies on policy issues affecting North Carolina.’’ It also said he will work with the congressional delegation.

Felts worked in the Bush White House as deputy to White House political strategist Karl Rove, and was assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for political affairs. He also served as associate director of the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Felts has a long resume in GOP politics, having worked for Vice President Dan Quayle, Sen. Lauch Faircloth, communications director for Congressman Robin Hayes, and executive director of North Carolina Bush-Cheney 04.

Most recently Felts was senior vice president for political advocacy and grass roots for the American Bankers Association in Washington D.C. He is known as an adventuresome soul, who after his White House days, spent a year in Afghanistan teaching Afghans how to run for office.

Forte named to new post

James Forte, who has been the new administration’s motor vehicles commissioner since January, is already changing jobs. The governor’s office announced Friday McCrory has appointed Forte to the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

The governor also re-appointed Bill Fowler to the commission. Fowler is a former Raleigh police officer and detective, who left the force in 1972 and became a parole officer.

Forte has been in state government for 25 years in several departments. Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Nick Tennyson will be acting commissioner until a permanent replacement is named to head the DMV.

Forte replaces Derrick E. Wadsworth of Edenton, and will be sworn in Monday. Former Senate majority leader Tony Rand remains on the four-member commission. Paul G. Butler Jr., appointed by McCrory earlier this year, is the fourth member. He replaced Rand as chairman of the commission.

Tax bill back on tap

After disappearing for a while, the Senate Republican tax plan is back up for debate this week.

The Senate originally intended to pass its proposal for a new tax code the week of June 13 and send it to the House. But Senate Republicans pulled the bill from its calendar and returned it to committee. Senate leaders were hoping to negotiate a compromise between their plan and the House plan without going through the formal conference process. The idea was to save time.

Obviously, negotiations haven’t progressed as planned, so the Senate is going to restart the engine on its own bill. It’s on Monday’s Senate Finance Committee agenda.

The governor also said that if the House and Senate can’t agree on a tax overhaul plan within the next two weeks they should forget it for now.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, Rob Christensen and Lynn Bonner

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