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Personnel file: Holmes shifts to new role at state auditor's office

The changing of the guard in Raleigh will mean a number of personnel shifts in state government. One began before the election.

Bill Holmes left House Democratic leader Joe Hackney's office Nov. 1 for a new post as spokesman for State Auditor Beth Wood. The auditor's office current spokesman Dennis Patterson, a 12-year state employee veteran, is retiring at the end of the year. Patterson and Holmes are former Associated Press reporters.

The House rules on spending bills

The House asks for spending bills.

Two years ago, Speaker Joe Hackney began requesting any spending added to the House budget to be also filed in a separate bill.

The goal was to make the budget process more transparent by making legislators put their names behind any special appropriations requests.

Hackney's spokesman, Bill Holmes, said that all of the spending bills are sent to the House Appropriations Committee, which makes the final decision on whether to include the spending.

He said it is helpful for committee members to see who suggested the spending and how many cosponsors it has. Though the rule may lead to more bills being filed, Holmes said legislators understand that their bills may not make it.

Despite the $2 billion budget hole, state legislators have filed 109 bills with requests worth more than $591.6 million in spending — nearly 30 percent of the shortfall.

Still, Holmes said Hackney was not troubled by the requests.

"I think folks are realistic," he said. "They know that there's a limit on the money that's available, but at the same time they have a duty to represent their folks back home. The financial picture will determine what happens, but nothing happens if you don't ask."

Correction: An earlier version of the post overstated the House practice. It is not a rule.

Will the House show get the greenlight?

A committee convened to look at televising debate at the state House of Representatives recommends broadcasting on the Internet, assuming the legislature can afford it.

The committee has all but finished a report on the issue and has set out a series of recommendations guiding how to start and run the House show. The plan would be to wire certain committee rooms and the House chamber and install broadcast quality video cameras. The video would be broadcast on the Internet with lower quality, but television stations would have access to video for news casts.

The catch is all that buying and setting up all that equipment could cost $1.3 million. It's a small fraction of the state's $21.5 billion budget, but lawmakers are bracing for a deficit next year that could be as high as $3 billion.

House Speaker Joe Hackney is keen on getting the House on television.

"As soon as there is money for it and as soon as it can get done, the Speaker wants it done," said Bill Holmes, a spokesman for Hackney.

The committee recommended that the House begin with Web-only broadcast, but work toward finding a place on television for them. Policies governing the broadcasts, such as editorial policies, would be set out by the speaker, and the minority and majority leaders, the committee recommended.

Hackney, recovered, tours Fort Bragg

Joe Hackney is back in action.

The House speaker has made a quick recovery from prostate cancer surgery, taking a tour of a special warfare center this week at Fort Bragg with three other lawmakers, Dan Kane reports.

According to a news release from the speaker's office, the lawmakers toured a vertical wind tunnel that helps paratroopers learn to maneuver in the air and a "laser shoot house" where soldiers with live ammunition sharpen their close quarter combat skills.

Bill Holmes, Hackney's spokesman, said the speaker began holding meetings in his office Jan. 2, and has also attended a few fundraisers for his colleagues. He's back working the Chatham County beef cattle farm with one of his brothers.

Hackney, 62, an Orange County Democrat, had surgery to remove his prostate on Dec. 21 at UNC Hospital after doctors confirmed the cancer in September. Doctors said the cancer was contained within the prostate, and expected Hackney to make a full recovery.

Spin machine skips Dome

Under the Dome is disappointed we weren't spun.

An e-mail from House Speaker Joe Hackney's office obtained by Americans for Prosperity reveals some of the speaker's staff's plans for spinning the press on the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. incentives.

Hackney spokesman Bill Holmes writes about efforts to get favorable coverage from the Fayetteville Observer, WTVD, WRAL, The Charlotte Observer and Freedom Newspapers of Eastern North Carolina.

He also notes that Rep. Rick Glazier, sponsor of the incentives bill, talked to an N&O reporter.

But Jonathan Cox, the ink-stained wretch in question, said that was simply a phone call the day of Gov. Mike Easley's veto that came too late to add any detail to his story.

Glazier, he said, was returning a call from two days earlier. So much for the spin machine.

The full text of the e-mail after the jump.

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