The General Assembly returns to lawmaking this week, a year after a tumultuous legislative session cast a national spotlight on North Carolina’s rightward shift.
The protests and arrests will return this year and House Speaker Thom Tillis’ bid for the U.S. Senate will color the short session.
But one more story line may prove just as important: What does Gov. Pat McCrory do?
Republican lawmakers steamrolled the governor in his first legislative session, political observers say, pushing him off his brand of politics and his message. But this year, McCrory is looking for a new start.
“We will probably be more assertive than in our first year, which I frankly thought was extremely assertive,” McCrory says. “We had a heck of a good first year, but now I think we can take even more initiatives.”
Former Gov. Jim Martin said he offers McCrory support and counsel, sometimes over a round of golf. “I think he’s learning, and learning how to work with his legislative majority,” Martin says. “I cautioned him not to take them for granted. And I think he’s learned that.” ...
Republican lawmakers so far aren’t enamored. Absent from McCrory’s recent teacher pay plan announcement were leading legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis.
“It was somewhat telling that you didn’t see Berger or Tillis there,” says Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican who chairs the influential Rules Committee. “Hopefully (McCrory) has learned that we have to work together to get things done. I don’t know if he’s there yet. Hopefully this session will tell us that.” Read more here on McCrory’s approach this session.
Democracy North Carolina will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at the State Board of Elections to discuss the recent report about potential voter fraud, saying documents show lawmakers with duplicate registrations in different states. The group – which is critical of Republican lawmakers’ agenda – is trying to poke holes in the report, which remains under review.
The 4 percent margin of error makes it a statistical tie -- which is where most other polls have put a hypothetical matchup between the two candidates for months.
The poll -- conducted by Pulse Opinion Research in the two days after the Republican primary election Tuesday -- found 5 percent prefer another candidate and 7 percent were undecided -- making the race fairly set even with six months to go.
Despite the modest lead, Tillis’ numbers actually slipped from January when Rasmussen found him with a 7 percent lead in a test matchup against Hagan.
A key number, the pollsters reported: The two candidates run nearly even among unaffiliated voters. See more results here.
The caller wanted to know whether Barber, the leader of North Carolina’s NAACP chapter, could spend a week in December cruising the eastern Caribbean as a part of a panel that included Nation publishers, writers and editors, big thinkers and celebrities such as film director Oliver Stone.
It’s a measure of how Barber’s name, and fame, are spreading. Adamant in his opposition to state Republicans’ legislative action and policy changes, the hulking Goldsboro preacher has emerged as the voice and face of the “Moral Monday” movement at a time when state Democrats lack a strong figurehead. Read more here.
Since his elevation in 2011 to Senate president pro tem, Berger has been cast as villain and hero. Liberals believe changes like the tax cuts, changes to the education system and the voter ID law have placed the state on a path to ruin.
Many conservatives, meanwhile, praise him for his role in those same things, which have collectively given North Carolina one of the most dramatic policy shifts of any state in recent history.
Berger is average in height, wears a beard that is mostly stubble and business suits that always seem new. He may be a polarizing figure, but in an era when politics often seems synonymous with personal attacks, Berger is all business, and that business is policy. Read more here.
The short legislative session agenda. Read more here.
Legislation now caught in lawsuits. Read more here.
A legislative oversight committee has endorsed a bill that would wrest from the governor the sole authority to appoint the board’s three members. Instead, the bill calls for the leaders of the Senate and House and the governor to each appoint one member. Read more here.
“I’ve put myself in several situations on national TV where I had to wait for some results,” Aiken told a group of students in Raleigh. “Worrying about how that could turn out never changes it, amazingly. So I don’t stress out too much.”
Aiken made the analogy during a noncampaign stop at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, where about 100 students peppered him with questions at the event, which was sponsored by the campus Young Democrats and Young Republicans. Read more here.
Under a section of the draft Energy Modernization Act, cities and counties could collect property tax revenues at levels “no more than 8 percent from the city property-tax revenues for the prior fiscal year.” Similar wording was used for counties.
The cap would also affect all 100 counties, according to Johanna Reese, the director of government relations at the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. It is “strange” that such a significant policy change has been inserted, without much discussion, in a bill that is supposed to deal mostly with fracking, she said. The revenue cap and fracking are not related. Read more here.
At least three members of the 14-member board met privately with representatives of energy giant Halliburton and other companies that sell the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, according to interviews conducted by The Associated Press.
There is no law barring state appointees from talking with lobbyists, but commission members who didn’t participate in the private discussions suggested the industry representatives should have addressed the full board.
“It creates a transparency problem because Halliburton wasn’t putting their viewpoint forward through all of the channels available to it,” said commissioner Amy Pickle, who also is state policy director at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. “It was only utilizing that one-on-one lobbying, which creates an appearance of collusion,” she said. Read more here.
The remark drew a recent rebuke from Senate leader Phil Berger: “I think that’s an unfortunate comment. I don’t necessarily agree with that,” he said, when asked about it at a press conference.
So how does Lindenmuth’s assertion meet the truth test? WRAL’s Mark Binker gave it a “red light.” Read more here.
Injunction on teacher contracts applies only to Durham, Guilford counties. Read more here.
Judge hears appeals of N.C. lawmakers fighting subpoenas. Read more here.
Charlotte Douglas doesn’t want coal ash under proposed runway. Read more here.
Bill calls for solution to NC job agency’s legal quandary. Read more here.
FEMA denies McCrory’s request for aid. Read more here.
Dan Forest, Jerry Tillman rally against Common Core. Read more here.