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For ex-lawmakers, retirement pays nicely

It pays to be a legislative leader --- even when you're gone. Or out of prison.

Former leaders head the list of those receiving pensions under North Carolina's Legislative Retirement System.

At the top of the list: former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black of Matthews, who served time in prison for corruption. He gets $3,607 a month, according to the state Treasurer's office.

His predecessor, Republican Harold Brubaker of Asheboro, gets $3,444 a month to supplement his income as a lobbyist representing more than a dozen clients including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and GlaxoSmithKline.

Former government tax attorney moves to Moore & Van Allen

Canaan Huie, former general counsel at the state Department of Revenue, starts a new job today at the law and lobbying firm Moore & Van Allen, Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's old stomping ground.

Prior two his two years at Revenue, Huie spent a dozen years working at the legislature. His time on Jones Street included a stint on Rep. Joe Hackney's staff when the Orange County Democrat was House Speaker.

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.

Oops -- Hackney's staff revises timeline

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney's letter to Speaker Thom Tillis last week renewing his call for an ethics investigation of Rep. Stephen LaRoque contained an error. Hackney wrote that he first asked Tillis for a probe back in September.

That didn't happen.

Hackney's request was actually made in November, and Tillis on the same day referred the letter to the Legislative Ethics Committee. That's not the same thing as sitting on the request since September.

Bill Holmes, communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, said the mistake was the result of a September date on an electronic copy of the letter that he had been given.

LaRoque on Wednesday resigned from the House in the wake of federal criminal charges against him.

Tillis advises LaRoque to resign

House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office disclosed this afternoon that the Mecklenburg Republican sent a letter to the Legislative Ethics Committee on Wednesday morning providing it with a copy of the federal indictment against Rep. Stephen LaRoque that was handed up on Tuesday.

Word of the letter followed an announcement by House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, and Orange County Democrat, renewing his call for an ethics investigation of LaRoque, which he first requested in November after news media reports raised questions about the Kinston Republican’s business operations.

Private school scholarships bill fails

A plan to give tax breaks to corporations for donations to private school scholarships failed in a tie committee vote Thursday morning. But the bill may still have life.

The proposal, backed by House Majority Leader Paul Stam, would offer dollor-for-dollar tax credits to corporations who give to private school scholarships. The scholarships would be for students moving from public to private schools or entering kindergarteners.

Critics dubbed it a voucher plan that diverts tax revenue that public schools need to private schools.  Supporters said it would give students options to move out of public schools that didn't meet their needs.

House Dems bash GOP budget

The mostly GOP-authored budget does not do enough for public education, House Democrats said at a news conference Wednesday

Democrats made their budget critique a few hours before the full House was scheduled to vote on the $20.3 billion plan. Republicans scraped together about $330 million to put toward K-12 education next year, enough to maintain the financial status quo.

But House Democrats said the budget continues to shortchange K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities. Democrats stopped short, however, of recommending a tax increase to raise more money. "It's up to them to find the money to meet the needs of this state," said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.

GOP veto garage antagonizes teachers, cops, League of Women Voters

Republicans in the General Assembly created a "veto garage" last year, where they "parked" vetoed bills until they thought they had the votes to override. But is it legal? See our story today.

Testing campaign messages, House Democrats blame GOP for jobless rate

House Democratic leader Joe Hackney is blaming the Republican legislative leadership for the state's poor economy, pushing back against those who put the problem at Gov. Bev Perdue's doorstep.

In a press conference Tuesday to roll out the Democratic legislative agenda, Hackney said Republican's year and a half at the helm is taking the state in the wrong direction as the state's unemployment rate continues to lag as other states improve. "It is clear to us under almost 18 months of Republican authority that North Carolina is moving backward," Hackney said.

Democrats ask GOP legislative leaders to review second floor rule

Democratic legislative leaders are asking their GOP counterparts to review a statehouse rule that bans visitors from the second floor where the legislative chambers are located.

Rep. Joe Hackney and Sen. Martin Nesbitt believe House Speaker Thom Tillis' office incorrectly used the rule to evict protesters in February. (For more on the rule, click here.)

They are OK with not letting people viewing the building or observing the session walk the floor -- but believe the rule doesn't cover protesters.

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