Tuesday’s primary election is overshadowing the start of the legislative session but it won’t for long. The protests and arrests at the statehouse that defined the 2013 legislative session will return this year.
The Rev. William Barber II, the architect of the Monday demonstrations that helped cast a national spotlight on North Carolina politics last year, plans to use a similar strategy during the coming General Assembly session.
Legislators return to Raleigh on May 14 to open a short session to tackle budgetary decisions for the coming year and other issues lingering from last year.
On May 19, the first Monday in the session, Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP chapter, plans to lead protesters of the N.C. Republican agenda back to the Legislative Building.
“We will be back just as we were last year,” Barber told a group of reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “Whether or not we will be arrested for civil disobedience does not depend on us.”
April 29 marked the anniversary of the first 17 arrests in a series of weekly demonstrations that became known as the “Moral Monday movement.” The trials are ongoing. Read more here.
*** The politics are flying in plenty of races as the Tuesday vote nears. Get the latest below in the Dome Morning Memo.***
No legislative committee meetings are scheduled for Thursday.
On the Senate campaign trail, Thom Tillis will cast his vote at noon at South Regional Library in Charlotte. Greg Brannon will appear on the Glenn Beck radio show at 10 a.m.
They align with Greg Brannon’s strong conservative politics. But they consider Thom Tillis the stronger candidate against Democrat Kay Hagan.
“Thom Tillis is a moderate, in my opinion. Brannon is more conservative,” said Wayne Dahnke, a 68-year-old real estate appraiser. Next to him at a GOP event in Sanford near their home, his wife nodded in agreement. But he added, “I’m leaning toward Tillis because he’s more likely to beat Hagan.”
With his campaign’s recent emphasis on social conservative issues, Republican strategist Carter Wrenn said Tillis is just shifting the emphasis. “If you look at his record, there are conservative things and things not so conservative,” he said. “I think he has put a spotlight on what’s conservative.”
Tillis disputes any evolution in his political moorings. He tries to strike a balance, highlighting his efforts to cut billions in taxes and dozens of regulations and his support for the constitutional ban on gay marriage and tougher abortion restrictions.
“It’s disingenuous to say I’m changing my position because these are positions I have taken formally in votes over the last three years,” he said in an interview after the Sanford event Saturday. Read more here.
In a new email to supporters, he labels himself a “work horse” and attacks his upstart rival Taylor Griffin as a “party animal.” The tag line: “Who do you want representing you?” It links to a Politico article naming Griffin to a list of DC’s “top 50 Party Animals.”
The attack is misplaced, Griffin’s campaign says. It shows a picture of Griffin, a former Washington politico, with the late-author Christopher Hitchens. The campaign says it was from a charity event for a writing mentoring program. And the link to the Top 50 list, the Griffin campaign says, more reflects who’s invited to “events,” pointing to Andrea Mitchell’s presence on the list. “It's not exactly a list of the lamp shade crowd,” campaign manager Doug Raymond responded.
This week, the Dunn Republican writes: “Bev Perdue’s friend Keith Crisco is running an ad on television right now that personally attacks Clay Aiken for not being supportive enough of children with disabilities.
“Now, clearly I disagree with Clay Aiken on practically every issue, his support of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi at the top of the list of course. But can you believe Crisco would stoop this low in an attack ad? Believe it.
“So if a Democrat is willing to fight this dirty against one of his own imagine what the liberal machine will try to do to our conservative cause?”
Ellmers goes on to ask for money and while the logic (though twisted) is apparent, coming to Aiken’s defense by calling the ad “a new low” is amusing.
Among her many recent hits on the Democrat, it was Ellmers’ campaign that drew controversy for saying Aiken had “San Francisco” values, a shot that many perceived as one on Aiken’s sexual orientation.
About $236 million a year has been spent on projects in the state since the change, according to new and revised reports released Wednesday by the state Department of Revenue. In the three years prior to the increased incentives, about $57 million had been spent per year on filming in North Carolina, which has long enjoyed interest from productions and is home to a major studio in Wilmington.
The reports also show a similar jump in the cost to taxpayers. Claims for incentives by film companies averaged $59 million a year since 2011. In the three prior years, the claims averaged $9.5 million per year. Read more here.
State Treasurer Janet Cowell’s office said Wednesday it will vote to oust one director, and urged Duke’s board to seek an outside probe of the “corporate decisions that led to the Dan River spill.”
Cowell, who oversees the $80 billion pension plan for state and local government employees, became at least the third of Duke’s institutional investors to urge new blood on its 15-member board. Read more here.
A subcommittee of the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee sent a draft “open enrollment” bill Wednesday to the full committee.
The proposed legislation would require school districts to set up plans allowing families to request a seat in any school in their home district or in any of the state’s other districts. School districts could deny the request for only a few reasons, with lack of space the principal one.
The bill would allow students who want to transfer to another traditional public school the same right as those who want to attend charter schools. Students may attend any charter school in the state at no cost. For example, if a Wake County student wishes to attend a charter in Durham, Wake County cannot object and must provide its share of the student’s funding to the receiving school in Durham.
Also as with charter schools, the bill would not require districts to provide transportation for families who took advantage of the open enrollment option. Read more here.
The proposal surfaced Wednesday morning and got an endorsement from the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission, a panel that includes a mix of legislative and gubernatorial appointees. ...
A trade group for cities and towns, the N.C. League of Municipalities, immediately alerted its member governments and asked them to oppose the measure. “It cuts to the core of what cities and towns do in trying to determine how the course of economic development happens in their communities, as well as development generally,” said Erin Wynia, a league lobbyist. Read more here.
From the Wells Fargo Championship: Johnson Wagner didn’t bother with a formal title for Gov. Pat McCrory. Before the end of the first hole at Wednesday’s Wells Fargo Championship pro-am at Quail Hollow Club, Wagner was already calling his playing partner “Pat.”
“It’s kind of ironic,” said McCrory, the former 14-year mayor of Charlotte. “I’m still called Mayor Pat here.
“We had a lot of fun. People are very nice to me. It’s good to be back home.”
Quail Hollow’s course wasn’t particularly kind to McCrory, who said he’s going to stick to his day job. But he played in the pro-am to help promote an economic plan in the state. Read more here.
Questionable billing for NCDOT winter storm contractors. Read more here.
N.C. report tackles prescription drug abuse. Read more here.