Morning Memo: Budget impasse and other legislative games

Posted by John Frank on June 24, 2014 

With only a week before the new fiscal year, Gov. Pat McCrory put a little heat on lawmakers yesterday, calling reporters to his office to tell them he had things under control. State budget director Art Pope has issued a directive to state agencies telling them how they should proceed. McCrory also used the opportunity to prod lawmakers saying, “I just want to urge the General Assembly to continue to add a sense of urgency to these budget negotiations.”

The response from the Senate came via Amy Auth, deputy chief of staff for Senate Leader Phil Berger, who issued this statement:

“The legislature must receive the real numbers on Medicaid and the lottery we requested from DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and OSBM (office of State Budget and Management) to move forward on the budget.”

Does anyone really believe Jones Street will be a little emptier by July 1?

*** Read more about the day ahead and what you may have missed Monday in Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS:

Gov. Pat McCrory has one event on his public calendar: a bill signing at 1 p.m. in the Old State Capitol House chamber.

Both chambers convene at 2 p.m. The House will start their session with a bill honoring the late Sen. Martin Nesbitt. By the end of the day, they’ll be taking up bills that could have him rolling his grave: letting charter schools expand and getting rid of Common Core Standards tonight.

The Senate also takes up a bill honoring Nesbitt. The biggest item on their agenda is SB 729, which deals with managing coal ash.

Ahead of the session, the House committee on regulatory reform meets at 9 in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building to work on making two huge Senate bills, 493 and 734, more palatable. The Senate committee on agriculture, the environment and natural resources meets at 11 a.m. in room 544 of LOB. At noon, the Senate’s state and local government committee meets in room 1124/1224 of the Legislative Building while the House transportation committee meets at the same time in room 643 of LOB. It will be followed immediately at 1 by the House government committee in the same room.

Democratic Rep. Larry Hall holds a press conference at noon.

#NCSEN — The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.

CAN NC’S LATINOS HELP DEMS HOLD THE SENATE? – from the National Journal: “Hispanic voters may be a rising force in American politics, but they will be all but invisible in most key Senate races this year. ... Even so, in one important, closely divided campaign, some Democrats see a big opportunity with this relatively tiny group. Latinos have punched well below their weight in turnout, barely making up 2 percent of the electorate in North Carolina during the 2012 presidential election despite accounting for nearly 9 percent of the state’s population. They display an even bigger drop-off rate for the midterms than the general population. But in a race that’s expected to be extremely close, Democrats see a slice of the electorate that, though small, could potentially give Sen. Kay Hagan just the push she needs to win a second term. Read more here.

#NCGA — A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.

COST SAVINGS OR WASTE OF MONEY? – from the Associated Press: “The General Assembly agreed last summer to set aside $4 million through mid-2015 for the North Carolina Government Efficiency and Reform initiative, or NC GEAR. ... NC GEAR hired an outside consultant this spring that will receive $3 million over time to help make recommendations by the end of September based on information from state agencies and the public. Another $2 million is proposed in the House budget related to information technology would also assist NC GEAR’s efforts.

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, told NC GEAR deputy director Joe Coletti that if lawmakers don’t get a specific report with a bold direction for the state, then the ‘$4 million to $6 million – will be a complete waste of money.’ ” Read more here.

PROTESTERS SHIFT TO POLLS from The N&O: “The demonstrators who have been railing against the N.C. legislative policies and agenda of the past two years plan to move their march from the state capital to the voting polls. At a “Moral Monday” demonstration on Monday that drew nearly 1,300 people, according to police estimates, 15 protesters refused to leave the Legislative Building when asked. Their act of civil disobedience, which resulted in arrests and charges of trespass, brought the number of arrests and citations from civil disobedience over the past two years to more than 1,000.

“We have exposed the hypocrisy,” the Rev. William J. Barber II, head of the state NAACP and a chief organizer of the protests, told a crowd gathered on Halifax Mall before the arrests. “Now is the time to organize.”

The next phase of the protest against the legislative agenda that curbed unemployment benefits, failed to expand Medicaid, made sweeping changes to elections law and shifted public education money to private schools is designed to get more like-minded people out to vote. Read more here.

STRONGER OVERSIGHT FOR PRESCRIPTION PAIN PILLS RECOMMENDED – from N.C. Health News: “This year, Senate lawmakers are pushing a bill to strengthen the controlled substances reporting system by putting some money toward connecting North Carolina’s system with that of other states by requiring doctors, nurses, dentists and podiatrists who can prescribe narcotic to take continuing-education courses on prescription-drug abuse and by mandating the creation of provider guidelines for prescribing opioids.” Read more here.standards from the public schools.

#NCPOL – More political news from North Carolina.

ADVANCE AUTO JOBS NOT ALL NEW – from the N&O: “When Advance Auto Parts was awarded a state incentives package worth more than $17.4 million last week, the McCrory administration touted the company’s plan to “create 600 new jobs” in Raleigh as part of its investment.

What wasn’t mentioned was that a good chunk of those 600 jobs could be workers who are already employed by General Parts International, which Advance Auto acquired for $2.04 billion earlier this year. Nor was it mentioned that some General Parts employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the corporate restructuring, or be given the option of relocating to Roanoke, Va.”

Read more here:

COAL ASH CLEAN UP TIMELINES CRITICIZED – from the Wilmington Star News. “Officials with Duke Energy said Monday that adhering to a proposed timeline for decommissioning coal ash basins across the state could be difficult, as closing procedures will vary widely from site to site.” Read more here.

QUICK LOOK – More headlines from across the state.

Winston-Salem Journal: Expert: Elections will gauge impact of protests

Carolina Journal: Senior House Democrat Has Six-Figure Tax Debt.

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