The second year of a legislative session is designed for “budget adjustment” but the Senate’s draft spending plan goes much further.
Here’s a breakdown on what’s in the plan:• The Senate budget proposal upends the state Department of Health and Human Services by moving to take away its biggest responsibility, Medicaid. At the same time it would cut thousands of elderly and disabled people, and other beneficiaries with high medical bills, from the government insurance plan. Read more here.
• For the third time since Republicans took over the General Assembly, Senate budget-writers are trying to shift control of the State Bureau of Investigation from the attorney general to the governor. They say it would be a more efficient and logical place to put the agency, and they have developed safeguards to “depoliticize” the move, though it merely moves it under a Republican for now. Read more here.
• Senate Republican leaders want to hike the maximum highway use tax the state can collect on vehicle sales from businesses that buy trucks, and from other North Carolinians who buy recreational vehicles. Read more here.
• And more: New fees hit hospitals, commercial fishermen and more. No raises for UNC faculty as lawmakers push for “dissolving” Elizabeth City State University. Raises for teachers but no money for textbooks. And new judicial panel to weigh challenges to state law, a move designed to make it less easy to undo their policies. Read more here.
*** Much more from the flurry at the General Assembly and a former rival will campaign for Thom Tillis. Below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***
TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the commencement at the private Providence Day School in Charlotte at 9:30 a.m. Later in the day, at a time and place not disclosed, the governor and his wife will pose with their dog Moe for a photo shoot of the “Great Dogs of Charlotte.”
The House adjourned until Monday when it is scheduled for a 4 p.m. skeleton session with no votes.
The Senate remains in town Friday for a rare session with another unusual prospect expected: a Saturday vote. The chamber will meet Friday at 4 p.m. to take the first vote on their budget and wait until just after the new calendar day starts to take the final vote just past midnight and send it to the House, less than three days before it debuted.
Mark your calendar for Tuesday, the Senate scheduled the first committee meeting on coal ash legislation for 2 p.m. in room 643 LOB.
#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.
BREAKING NEWS: In a press release, Wake County GOP says it endorses Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate.
AFTER CALLING HIM UNELECTABLE, MARK HARRIS TO CAMPAIGN FOR TILLIS: Two former rivals are coming to the aid of Republican Thom Tillis. Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor, and Heather Grant, a Wilkesboro nurse, will join Tillis’ wife Susan on Saturday to open a GOP office in Winston-Salem
Harris finished third and Grant a distant fourth in the Republican primary against Tillis.
Harris’ involvement is particularly interesting. In the primary campaign, he called Tillis unelectable in November and compared him to John McCain. “There are two individuals on this platform tonight that carry with them baggage that I believe Kay Hagan will use to rip them apart,” Harris said in the final debate.
In another instance, Harris sent a letter to Tillis questioning his character and judgment, a reference to the House speaker’s decision to give two staffers severance payments after they acknowledge inappropriate relationships with lobbyists. “In all honesty, Thom, you have managed to accumulate a list of actions that at the very least show terribly poor judgment, and at the worst, a lack of political character applied to the decisions you made,” Harris wrote. “I believe this is why people are so fed up with politicians and distrust them so.”
Harris endorsed Tillis on primary election night, saying the GOP needed to unite behind the party’s nominee.
HEADLINES: More Dems join GOP in calling for Shinseki to resign. Read more here. N.C. Senate Race Expected To Be One Of The Most Expensive In The U.S. Read more here. Unlike Tillis, GOP candidates show signs of retreat on full Obamacare repeal as midterms approach. Read more here.
NEW TILLIS BUMPER STICKER: “Hagan is not O’Kay” – with the “O” being an Obama campaign logo.
#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.
A BILL TO WATCH: A House Resolution establishing a House select committee to study whether North Carolina should apply to Congress for a convention of the states under Article V of the Constitution of the United States. Track here.
ATTORNEY GENERAL COOPER ON GOP MOVE TO TAKE AWAY SBI: “When a U.S. attorney or a prosecutor calls on the SBI, they want an independent agency that can help them find the truth,” Cooper said in an interview Thursday. “They do not want an agency that is maybe governed by the very people who are being investigated.”
WITH INVESTIGATIONS LOOMING, POTENTIAL 2016 CHALLENGE, McCRORY CHANGES POSITIONS ON ISSUE: Cooper said he hopes McCrory will stick with the position he had last year, when he said he didn’t want to assume authority for the SBI. But McCrory is reconsidering.
McCrory told reporters on Thursday that he had discussed it with other governors and didn’t have a problem with it. He said he would be talking in more detail with Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry, who had a long career as an FBI agent. Read more here.
McCRORY SIGNS TAX BILL, FRACKING NEXT: Hours after the Senate and House gave final approval to a major tax bill, Gov. Pat McCrory signed it. In a fast flurry Thursday, lawmakers approved a bill that fast tracks the state’s issuing of permits for fracking for natural gas. Read more here.
HOUSE, SENATE TAX DISAGREEMENT: From Asheville Citizen-Times: Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, Buncombe and Transylvania, said the House would not agree to a gradient so senators decided to eliminate tax but made it end next year to give the General Assembly time to work something out.
He said the worst case for cities could be going back to the $100 per businesses the House had proposed. “I see something,” he said. “I don't see it totally going away.” Read more here.
LAWMAKERS WANT TO ELIMINATE AIR MONITORS: State lawmakers who have been cutting environmental regulations in their quest for to streamline government have a new target: cutting the number of air quality monitors around the state.
That provision is in a wide-ranging regulatory overhaul bill that has cleared the Senate and is headed to the House. SB734 would make state environmental regulators get rid of any ambient air monitors that federal law doesn’t require – a big concern to the neighbors of some high-profile locations that could lose their monitors. Read more here.
O’CONNOR COLUMN: Rep. Bob Brawley could be a poster boy for today’s Republican Party.
He distrusts government, espouses lower taxes, votes pro-business, and in the 2013-14 General Assembly he has co-sponsored bills on gun rights, reducing unemployment insurance and blocking Medicaid expansion. Other bills honor fallen soldiers and the Boy Scouts. In short, he’s your typical Republican combo: patriot and conservative malcontent.
But last week the 10-termer from Mooresville was as unwelcome in GOP circles as are the Moral Monday marchers. Read more here.
#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.
GROUP TIED TO SENATE LEADER BERGER HELPED BERGER JR: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. put $500,000 into the N.C. Supreme Court primary just before the May election.
Roll Call reported: The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a Section 527 political organization, reported it had receipts of $1,625,373 and disbursements of $1,354,168 during April. The RSLC received $500,000 from the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. on April 25th. Earlier this year the RSLC had received $100,000 from the Chamber.
Other major donors during April included ... $100,000 from MMIC Agency, Raleigh, the publication found. MMIC is a company that provides malpractice and liability insurance for doctors.
The RSLC contributed $900,000 to Justice for All NC, including $650,000 on April 23rd and $250,000 on April 30th. The RSLC also gave $75,000 to Keep Conservatives United, based in Raleigh, N.C.
One more intriguing detail not in the Roll Call report: Keep Conservatives United, led by former Jesse Helms research Bob Harris, dug up dirt and ran attack ads on Phil Berger Jr.’s Republican opponents in the GOP primary for the 6th Congressional District.
Senate leader Phil Berger is the immediate past chairman of RSLC’s affiliated legislative organization, the Republican Legislative Leadership Committee.
CLAY AIKEN AND LAURA FJELD, YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday began asking television stations in 36 districts to set aside broadcast and cable advertising time for the fall’s campaign blitz, the AP reports. None are in North Carolina. Read more here.
RACHEL MADDOW ON RICHARD BURR: “The reason Richard Burr's actions are shocking over and over: nobody is that much of a jerk to veterans.” Read more here.
QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.
More religious groups to join suit against same-sex marriage ban. Read more here.
Spill upends N.C. politics – but will substantive legislation be the result? Read more here.