TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The GOP kerfuffle about sweeping clean state board appointees continues in a House Rules Committee meeting this morning (read more about it below). Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development Life Science Conference. Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and where a controversial measure about control of the Charlotte airport is on the calendar. The House starts at 1 p.m. to consider a bill about using lottery funds for digital education, as the governor pitched in his State of the State address.
McCRORY VOICES CONCERN ABOUT PAYDAY LENDING BILL: The Republican governor is expressing skepticism about a bill to legalize payday lending -- one of the most moneyed efforts this legislative session. From AP: "McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said Wednesday the governor has objections to a Senate bill that would reinstitute a class of loans of up to $500 for which lenders could charge fees reaching $75. Industry representatives say the government-regulated loans provide a needed credit option for people with nowhere else to go. Feldman says this and similar legislation don't align with McCrory's objective to lessen the financial burden of families. She says high-risk loans put families in danger of incurring debt."
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MEMO-GATE BREAKS OPEN: America Votes claims authorship: The leader of a political nonprofit group came forward Wednesday as the author of a leaked strategy memo on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican leaders. Jessica Laurenz, the North Carolina director for America Votes, said she wrote and distributed the draft memo – not Blueprint North Carolina, a Raleigh group being blamed for crafting the plan to “eviscerate the (Republican) leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
In an interview, Laurenz defended the memo, saying “America Votes has not done anything wrong or out of the ordinary” and didn’t regret “strongly urging my colleagues to fight for what we believe in.” The memo originated from a meeting America Votes and Blueprint held in December in which interest groups aligned with Democratic politics brainstormed a strategy to counter the Republican control of the lawmaking process. Kosofsky said he attended the December meeting, but “only 501(c)3 compliant activities were discussed.”
GOP TURF WAR EMERGING ON BOARDS BILL: The resolve behind a central part of Republican legislators’ agenda this session – making key state commissions more business-friendly and replacing the members with their own appointees – was tested Wednesday when it ran into dissent from Republicans themselves.
House GOP members have a markedly different vision of the overhaul than their Senate counterparts, and even have conflicting ideas among themselves of what the far-reaching legislation should do. “I feel like the parent who sends their kid to college and comes home at Thanksgiving and you don’t recognize them,” Apodaca said. “My God, what have you done to my child? This is not a good way to start the session.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES HIRES GOP OPERATIVE AS LOBBYIST: Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz named Martha Jenkins as the agency's legislative lobbyist this week. Jenkins, who started Feb. 25, is the past president of the N.C. Federation of Republican Women. She is a constant presences at GOP functions, though her politics drew the fire of some activists years ago. She served as N.C. Republican Party secretary in 2012 and attended the national GOP convention as a voting delegate. Jenkins, who lives in Chapel Hill, is co-owner of Flags Over America, which she says "is one of the largest Flagpole and Flag companies in America." She previously was a commercial underwriter for Fireman's Fund Insurance for 14 years, the department said.
POLLING ALERT: Elon University will release a poll Friday about North Carolinians attitudes toward the federal budget cuts and who is to blame in Washington, along with approval ratings for the president and congress. On Monday, the second half of the poll -- in the field this week -- will give approval ratings for McCrory and the N.C. General Assembly, along with other hot-button legislative issues.
POLITICAL THEATER IN WASHINGTON: The Sequestration Monologues. From AP -- Across-the-board spending cuts all but certain, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are staging a politically charged showdown designed to avoid public blame for any resulting inconvenience or disruption in government services.
BACK HOME, FEDERAL BUDGET CUTS MAY HURT: North Carolina is home to some of the most visited national parks and seashores in the country, but the 25 million people who visited the state’s most popular sites in 2011 wouldn’t have access to the same services this year if federal budget cuts go through as scheduled. More here.
PATCHWORK OF GUN LAWS FORM CONFLICTING PICTURE: California forbids the sale of assault weapons. Florida mandates a three-day wait before handgun purchases. And while Texas and Kansas don’t require dealers to apply for licenses, Missouri and Idaho don’t regulate much of anything at all when it comes to firearms. In America, thousands of laws, rules and regulations at the federal, state and local levels dictate who can buy, sell, possess and transport firearms; everything from hunting rifles to the type of high-tech guns found on battlefields.
BONUS HEADLINE: Green energy advocates to press Duke Energy. At a hearing Thursday green-energy advocates will push for more wind and sun power and less reliance on nuclear and coal-fueled electricity. The advocates’ numbers persuaded the N.C. Utilities Commission, which was deluged by e-mails and petitions, to schedule the Charlotte hearing in addition to one held Feb. 11 in Raleigh. Environmentalists view the plans as their chance to demand Duke move away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and toward emission-free solar and wind and energy efficiency.