Under the Dome

Morning Memo: Florida GOP governor takes N.C. Democrats approach

FLORIDA GOP GOV -- AN OBAMACARE HATER -- TAKES THE REP. INSKO APPROACH: That's right. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who first entered politics to fight the federal health care law, is proposing to take the money for Medicaid expansion for the first three years when Washington will pay the full cost. State Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat, proposed the same thing in North Carolina, but Republican lawmakers shot it down repeatedly. "That's just completely nonsensical and doesn't work," Republican Rep. Nelson Dollar said of Inkso's idea.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House is taking it easy today. A skeletal session with no recorded votes -- none until Tuesday, in fact. The Senate will convene for action at noon. But most the action will take place in the Commerce Committee where the bill to speed up and incentivize fracking with get a hearing. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events on his schedule. He leaves this evening for Washington to attend the National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association winter meetings. Wonder if McCrory will talk to Scott and Ohio Gov. John Kasich about how they are expanding Medicaid?

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more N.C. political news below.***

CHIEF JUSTICE NEWBY ON 2014 SENATE RACE, POLITICS: From the Carteret County New-Times -- "While judicial races are nonpartisan, Justice Newby (speaking at a Crystal Coast Republican Reagan Day dinner) made no attempt to hide his conservative position during the 2012 election and received major financial backing from a Republican super PAC.

"Justice Newby transitioned into the 2014 elections, which he said includes an important U.S. Senate race. That seat is currently occupied by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat. Justice Newby criticized the U.S. Senate for continuously failing to pass a budget. “I thought that was their job,” he said, adding that those senators “don’t have the moral courage to take a stand.”

"There are also four seats up for election on the N.C. Supreme Court, he said, including an open seat for the chief justice position, as Chief Justice Sarah Parker is unable to run for re-election due to her age. He asked the audience to support Justice Mark Martin, a conservative, who will run for that position. “It is vital” the chief justice is a conservative, he said, adding that he expected judicial races to return to be partisan elections in 2014.

NATE SILVER RANKS N.C. SENATE RACE 'TOSS UP': The New York Times prognosticator puts Kay Hagan's Senate seat in the category with four others (Montana, Lousiana and South Dakota -- all four heald by Democrats). Silver's write up: "This is a reasonably straightforward race: The approval ratings for Senator Kay Hagan are barely better than break even, which could spell trouble in a state where Democratic turnout drops significantly in midterm years. Still, Republicans face a potentially messy primary, and Ms. Hagan’s condition is not as desperate as that of Democrats like Senator Claire McCaskill who survived under similar circumstances in recent years."

GOV. PERDUE'S NIGHTMARE HEADLINE: Former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue said last year that the gay marriage amendment vote made North Carolina "look like Mississippi" -- widely taken as an insult to both. So Perdue probably won't appreciate seeing this Esquire magazine headline: "North Carolina takes a turn as Mississippi." From the magazine's Charles P. Pierce: "In our attention to what's goin' down in the several states, especially those several states where Republican governors have Republican state legislatures with which to play, we have been inexcusably neglectful in keeping an eye on North Carolina — aka The Smart Carolina. They had all that academia going on in the middle of the state, and all that medical smartitude breaking out all throughout the Research Triangle, and we were so dazzled that we didn't notice that, politically, the people running the place were casting envious eyes southward toward The Dumbass Carolina and thinking, "We need to get us some of that!"

THE FRAT BOY AGENDA AT THE #NCGA: Wednesday’s calendar at the General Assembly sounded like a frat boys’ to-do list: weed, bare breasts and opossums. But it was not so funny for medical marijuana supporters, who were disappointed that a House committee killed a bill that would have legalized it.

STATE CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF DISMISSED FOR NIGHTCLUB WORK: An investigation into members of the State Capitol Police who were working security jobs at a Raleigh nightclub has led to the dismissal of the acting chief and a sergeant. Former Deputy Chief Antonio Asion, who had been running the police force since Oct. 1, and Sgt. Benjamin Franklin, an eight-year veteran of the force, were dismissed on Friday, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety said Wednesday. More here.

HAGAN PUTS FOCUS ON EDUCATION: Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., on Wednesday said that she’ll introduce a bill in Congress next week that would reward high-poverty schools that improve their test scores and lower dropout rates. The bill, called the School Turnaround and Rewards, or STAR, Act, also would provide grants to the poorest-performing 5 percent of schools on the condition that they make major changes to improve.

MEDICAID STUDY'S AUTHOR DISPUTES BERGER'S RATIONALE: Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other top Republicans argue that the expansion of Medicaid, a government paid health program for select low-income people, would come “at the expense of the private insurance market.”To support his argument, Berger claims that as many as 80 percent of the new Medicaid recipients nationwide are currently covered by private insurance and only 14 percent are uninsured.
Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican, took it a step further in a recent video he posted to YouTube, saying an expansion “will immediately take up to 400,000 North Carolinians with private healthcare and place them under Medicaid.” The Republican lawmakers source their numbers to a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs-commissioned study from 2011 – but the report’s lead author said this week that their claims misconstrue the results. More on the issue here.

REPORT IS BAD TIMING FOR PAYDAY LOAN DEBATE: Cash-strapped consumers that turn to payday loans to solve their short-term financial needs frequently have little realistic chance of paying them off on time, according to a new study. A report issued Wednesday by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts found that just 14 percent of borrowers nationwide can afford to pay off the average payday loan when it comes due. Consequently, most borrowers end up renewing their loans or, alternatively, paying them off and then quickly taking out a new one. North Carolina outlawed payday loans more than a decade ago, but the industry hopes to make a comeback.

FRONT PAGE IN HENDERSON TIMES-NEWS: Headline --Meadows calling for 'cops in schools.' From the story: "Congressman Mark Meadows introduced the Protect America’s Schools Act on Feb. 15 to resurrect the “Cops in Schools” program started by President Bill Clinton in 1998. The program, originally funded with a $60 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, was cut in 2005 after placing more than 6,500 police officers in schools. “We’re not really sure of the reason (it was cut) in 2005. We do know that when we had our individuals go back and look at research, there were less gun-related violence in schools during that period,” Meadows said. “For us, we felt like it was a common-sense approach to come back and fund it.”

"Meadows found $134 million in “unobligated” funds in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget. He proposes to use the unspent money to provide an annual allotment of $30 million to assist law enforcement agencies across the nation hire officers to enhance school safety."

BONUS HEADLINE: Below the Meadows story in the Times-News is this headline -- "Bear poachers in NC, Georgia are targeted in sting operation //More than 80 arrests expected."

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