Morning Memo: McCrory to deliver a keynote address at ALEC meeting

Posted by John Frank on July 2, 2014 

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled to give a keynote address at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting later this month, the latest prominent North Carolina official to affiliate with the controversial group.

McCrory is dismissing questions about his July 30 appearance at the ALEC meeting in Dallas. The organization closely ties corporations and conservative policy makers who draft “model” legislation for introduction across the nation. It previously came under fire for its support of voter ID measures and the “Stand Your Ground” gun laws.

“I speak to many groups that invite me,” McCrory said Tuesday, comparing it to talking to a teacher group later that day.

Other headliners for the meeting include Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Pressed on the group’s controversial past, McCrory said he looked forward to the prominent platform. “I look forward to speaking to legislators across the nation and (letting) them know what we’re doing in North Carolina,” he said. “I’m going to be talking about the policies we’re initiating that have reduced the unemployment rate. ... I’m going to be proud to talk about the policy we implemented and maybe other states can learn from us.”

McCrory’s appearance is just the latest sign that the group is deepening its connection to the state’s conservative leaders. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Tim Moffitt, an Asheville Republican, sit on ALEC Board of Directors and the group’s legislation is being considered in the state, despite concerns about the undisclosed business interests driving the push.

*** A deeper look at the governor’s troubled restart this year. National Democrats see hope in state legislative elections. And a full roundup of headlines. Below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a Medicaid discussion and take a tour of Wilmington Health at 1:30 p.m. It will give him another opportunity to spread his message and rally against the state Senate’s approach to cutting Medicaid. The roundtable is closed to the media.

The Senate’s budget conference committee will hold an open meeting at 10 a.m. in room 544. House members were invited (albeit after the notice) to attend and discuss negotiations on a compromise $21 billion spending plan. House lawmakers – including Speaker Thom Tillis – were working late into the evening Tuesday on the budget.

WHAT CAN UNITE UNC AND DUKE FANS IN DISGUST: Rick Pitino and Louisville join the ACC. Read more here.

MORE FROM KENTUCKY: A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, though the ruling was temporarily put on hold and it was not immediately clear when same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses. Read more here.

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

PREVIEW: New Senate race ad hitting Kay Hagan debuts Wednesday. See it here.

THOM TILLIS CALLS FOR SPECIAL IRS PROSECUTOR: Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis joined the call for a special prosecutor to look into questions about whether the IRS targeted conservative groups. It comes after a former top IRS official apparently lost two years worth of e-mail to a computer failure.

“The Obama administration and Kay Hagan have shown a complete lack of willingness to get the bottom of this scandal to determine whether or not Americans were targeted for their political beliefs,” Tillis said in a statement issued by his campaign. “The IRS’s excuse that it conveniently lost emails that were subpoenaed by Congress is simply outrageous, and yet Kay Hagan continues to provide President Obama with political cover, once again failing to hold him accountable. The American people deserve the truth, and it’s time for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate.”

A LOOK AT FORECASTS FOR VULNERABLE SENATE SEATS -- From the Smart Politics blog: Overall, all five (media) outlets did agree on the pool of 12 states which would comprise these dozen slots. ... In addition to the universal agreement among the five forecasters that South Dakota should be ranked #1: .... Three ranked North Carolina #5. A helpful chart here.

HEADLINE: Dems hope Supreme Court decision will energize women voters. Read more here.

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

NATIONAL DEMOCRATS HOPING FOR GAINS IN N.C. LEGISLATURE: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is listing the state House and Senate on its list of “chambers to watch,” meaning they believe they can make strong gains in the November elections. The category is the organization’s second tier below states where it hopes to flip control of the legislative chambers.

Democrats are outnumbered 43-77 in the House and 17-33 in the Senate. And even many prominent Democrats acknowledge they may pick up a seat or two but won’t take back the chamber.

McCRORY RAISES OBJECTIONS TO COAL ASH BILL: Gov. Pat McCrory objected Tuesday to the legislature’s plan to name a new commission to oversee hazard rankings and closures of Duke Energy’s 33 North Carolina ash ponds.

The nine-member Coal Ash Management Commission is part of an N.C. Senate bill that came before the House environment committee.

McCrory’s general counsel, Bob Stephens, warned the committee that the commission violates the separation of powers between the legislative branch, which makes law, and the executive branch that enforces it.

Stephens said McCrory doesn’t object to creating the commission but that it “needs to be appointed by the executive branch.” Read more here.

HOUSE NON-DISCLOSURE BILL HITS SNAG: An effort to protect the personal information of prosecutors and other law enforcement officials hit a snag Tuesday in the state House. Read more here.

CONSERVATIVE GROUP AMENDS RATINGS: The Civitas Institute issued a mea culpa this week after Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican, alerted the group to an apparent error in its calculation of the Conservative Effectiveness Rankings for 2013. It prompted the group to reissue the scores.

The bottom line: the top ranked conservative lawmakers will get even higher scores now.

#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.

GOP-RUN SENATE FRUSTRATES McCRORY’S NEW APPROACH: Twice in less than 24 hours, a recalcitrant Senate pushed back against McCrory, first dismissing the education spending measure without a vote Monday and then advocating Tuesday for an override of an earlier veto on an unemployment insurance bill.

McCrory responded Tuesday by demanding a vote on the education mini-budget and comparing the Senate leaders blocking its consideration to Democrats who ruled the Senate with an iron fist for years.

“This is a serious plan that deserves a vote from every senator,” he told reporters.

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca‘s reaction. “I just might put it in the trash can,” the Hendersonville Republican said. “We are not going to do anything with that bill.” Read more here.

A GLANCE AT VOTER ID DRY-RUN: To monitor the (May primary), Democracy North Carolina, a Durham group that has been skeptical of the new voter ID law, decided to conduct a survey of primary voters. With the help of Ignite NC and Common Cause, the group trained a team of volunteers to quiz voters as they left the polls.

The survey of 7,134 voters was conducted in 34 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The questions were designed by and the results were tabulated by Martha Kropf, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte. ... The survey found that things did not always go smoothly. ... But for the most part, the survey results were not startling. Read more here.

WALKER, BERGER PREPARE TO FACE OFF; AD WAR INTENSIFIES: From the News & Record: With only two weeks remaining before the GOP runoff in the 6th Congressional District, both candidates are pouring time and resources into getting their supporters to the polls on July 15. Read more here.

QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.

A look at the Greensboro newspaper’s ties to the city. Read more here.

Patrick Gannon‘s debut column replacing Scott Mooneyham. Read it here.

Officials hold hearing in Sanford on fracking. Read more here.

Voter ID opponents prepare for Monday hearing. Read more here.

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