Morning Memo: Ellmers, Coble make the list; Pope, Barber trade words

Posted by John Frank on December 3, 2013 

Two North Carolina lawmakers are getting different kinds of attention from the list-producers at BuzzFeed.

The popular website reports that Congressional staff used a work computer to edit a portion of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers’ Wikipedia page to remove recent embarrassing headlines.

The Republican’s online biography no longer includes references to an AR-15 being stolen from her home nor her statement during the government shutdown that she would keep her paycheck – a stance she later reversed.

At the same time, another BuzzFeed writer is detailing why he thinks Greensboro U.S. Rep. Howard Coble is “7 million times more bada$$ than your congressman.” It starts: “Meet Rep. Howard Coble. Oh, you have never heard of him? Get your learning hat on.”

The post details 21-some reasons why the 28-year veteran Republican congressman stands out. Most of them poke fun at Coble. For instance, one photos shows him with an open container of alcohol talking to a cop while another says he won a “bada$$ hat contest against Richard Petty.”

The juxtaposition of a hip, youthful website showering love on the 82-year-old congressman begs the question: Does Howard Coble even know what BuzzFeed is?

***It’s not everyday the subject of a protest nearly walks into his own protest. Read about the Art Pope and William Barber encounter below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: The Council of State will meet at 9 a.m., the same time the N.C. lottery commission will gather in Raleigh.

The legislative office building will fill with lawmakers for three committee meeting. At 10 a.m., the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee meets in room 643 and the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee meet in room 544. At 1:30 p.m., the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy meets in room 544.

After Council of State, Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the opening of a cancer center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center at 1 p.m. and later tour the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem. At 7 p.m. he attends the Sandhills Community College 50th Birthday Celebration in Pinehurst.

ART POPE MEETS HIS OWN PROTESTERS: AP's Gary Robertson describes the unusual encounter -- Two symbols of North Carolina politics — the chief opponent of Republican-approved laws and the state budget director who's helped promote conservatism for decades — met Monday in a rare back-and-forth over GOP policies and the director's family business.

The Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP and budget director Art Pope debated briefly outside the government office building in Raleigh where Pope works and as Barber wrapped up a news conference singling out Pope for his activities. ...

The civil rights group and allied organizations also announced a plan during the holidays to picket outside Roses, Maxway and other discount stores operated by Variety Wholesalers Inc., of which Pope is CEO and board chairman.

Pope didn't flinch from a brief debate with Barber as TV cameras recorded the event. "Do you want to close down my stores so that we don't provide services in the community so that I've got to lay off my employees?" Pope asked Barber outside the Administration Building. Privately held Variety Wholesalers operates about 70 stores in North Carolina. Barber stopped short of calling for a store boycott, saying people should make up their own minds about where to shop.

"We'd love for you to use your wealth and pay your employees more," Barber responded, but said later "the policies that you're supporting, sir, are hurting the very people who spend (money) there." Read more here.

MORE FROM POPE-BARBER EXCHANGE: As you read, N.C. NAACP President William Barber and state Budget Director Art Pope just happened to meet each other on a Raleigh street as the former was protesting the latter. ABC 11 has the video.

SOME DEMOCRATS DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM OBAMA -- BUT NOT HAGAN: From AP’s Chuck Babington: “In North Carolina, which Obama narrowly carried in 2008 and narrowly lost in 2012, Republicans hope unhappiness with the health care law will topple Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November. Hagan, seeking a second term, told The News and Observer of Raleigh in August she would “be honored” to have Obama campaign for her. But Republicans are distributing a WTVD news clip that says Hagan didn’t answer directly when asked if she would appear alongside the president.

“That’s nonsense, says Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner. Hagan “has said she’d certainly have him campaign” for her, Weiner said. But the campaign’s main point, she said, is to contrast Hagan’s “record of getting bipartisan results for the state and her opponents who are more interested in fringe, anti-middle class policies.”

“Hagan attended a recent fundraiser held by Vice President Joe Biden in the college town of Chapel Hill.” Read more here.

More on the #NCSEN race: Democrats face battles in the South to hold the Senate, from the Wall Street Journal. Read it here.

CARTOON -- Aldona Wos ’ DHHS rules: From the Charlotte Observer’s editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers. See it here.

IS IT PAID ADVERTISING OR CAMPAIGNING? Republican lawmaker Tim Moffitt’s company produced a 48-page tab insert in the Asheville Citizen-Times last week that wasn’t marked advertising. The newspaper apologized but questions remain about how to define the insert which proclaimed to tell the “real” story of what happened in Raleigh this legislative session. Read more here.

HIGH COURT LETS INTERNET SALES TAX STAND -- Is North Carolina next to charge? From AP -- Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers suffered a legal setback on Cyber Monday as the Supreme Court turned away their challenge to a New York law that requires Internet companies to collect sales taxes.

The court's decision is expected to accelerate the move by states to try to collect taxes due on online purchases made by their residents. The court's refusal to take up the issue also increases pressure on Congress to settle the long-standing dispute between online and conventional retailers, and to enact legislation standardizing online sales-tax collection.

The pioneering New York statute has become a model for efforts by California and other states to collect tax revenue. Thirty-four states by law or administrative process require at least major online retailers to collect sales taxes. Read more here.

COBLE'S BILL FINDS LITTLE OPPOSITION FROM NRA: The Republican-led House is poised to pass a bill today renewing a U.S. ban on plastic guns, just days before the 1988 law is set to lapse.

The ban on weapons that can elude detectors at security checkpoints expires Dec. 9, as the Senate returns from a recess and is set to take up the measure. The National Rifle Association, the largest U.S. gun lobby, has been silent on the plastic-gun ban.

House leaders agreed to consider the bill, sponsored by North Carolina Republican Howard Coble, under suspension of the rules that requires two-thirds majority for passage. Such treatment is used for measures expected to pass by wide margins. Read more here.

WORKPLACE INJURY RATE FALLS: North Carolina has become a safer place to work, according to recent data from the N.C. Department of Labor.

The number of workplace illnesses and injuries in North Carolina dropped in 2012 to 2.9 incidents for every 100 full-time workers. The rate had been 3.1 the three previous years, and it has declined from 5.7 per 100 workers in 1999.

North Carolina has kept pace with a national decline of workplace injuries and illnesses since 1999, when the national rate was 6.3. The state has remained safer than average; it is one of eight states to see a decline in workplace injury and illness last year, and one of 15 with a lower rate than the national average of 3.4. Read more here.

More from the business desk -- NEW JOBS ALERT: A biofuel refinery, the first of its kind in the United States, will produce ethanol from wild grasses and other energy crops near Clinton, about 65 miles southeast of Raleigh.

The planned refinery, which is scheduled to begin producing biofuel in 2016, culminates an intensive effort to make ethanol from plants other than corn. The Italian developer, Biochemtex, operates a similar biorefinery in Italy and is planning to license other such facilities in the United States and around the world. Read more here.

PAY YOUR TOLLS ... OR ELSE, THE STATE SAYS: State toll collectors are about to get tough with deadbeats who don’t pay their bills for trips on the 18-mile Triangle Expressway.

Starting next year, 73,000 TriEx drivers with delinquent toll bills will find collections agencies hounding them to pay up. And they will be blocked from renewing their automobile registrations with the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

The state Department of Transportation said it is taking these new steps to collect delinquent tolls from drivers who are at least three months late in paying for their TriEx trips. The delinquent bills include tolls worth more than $815,000 – plus $3.4 million in late fees and civil penalties. Read more here.

THE COMMON CORE DEBATE: As North Carolina lawmakers study the national Common Core education standards, here's a good scene-setter from AP. It ran front-page Tuesday in the Hendersonville Times-News.

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