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Morning Memo: House goes into OT, GOP pushes major bills in final moments

OVERTIME AT THE STATEHOUSE: What day is it again? The legislation continues its Friday session later this morning -- the one it started at 12:01 a.m. “Good morning, everybody,” House Speaker Thom Tillis said as he gavel in a new legislative day. The 9 a.m. session is one more than expected but House lawmakers didn’t want to stay past 1 a.m. to finish their work like the Senate, expecting lengthy debates. The House session is expected to last a couple hours. On the calendar: the “technical corrections” state budget bill that includes $2 million for the governor’s office to spend on innovative education programs -- a last-minute request from State Budget Director Art Pope’s office, budget writers said. Also: a final vote on a sweeping regulatory overhaul measure.

The big item left unfinished: Gov. Pat McCrory’s commerce bill. The fracking language added to the reorganization measure in conference doomed its chances in the house. (Special session, anyone?)

LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS WITH A FLURRY OF ACTION: Abortion. Voter ID. Massive changes to state regulations. Charlotte airport. It’s all headed to Gov. Pat McCrory. If you went to bed too soon, read it all below in the ***Dome Morning Memo.*** Along with Tillis campaign news.

Tillis makes key committee chair appointments, emphasizing sophomore representatives

House Speaker Thom Tillis on Wednesday announced his choices to lead several key committees, elevating several second-term representatives to prominent positions.

Teachers group endorses GOP House members

The N.C. Association of Educators, a group long associated with Democrats, announced endorsements Wednesday of three Republican House members over their Democratic challengers. 

Reps. Bryan Holloway of Stokes, Linda Johnson of Cabarrus, and Hugh Blackwell of Burke County won NCAE's nod in what the group said is its first round of legislative endorsements. The other 13 endorsements announced Wednesday all went to Democrats.

Holloway and Blackwell are House education budget writers. Johnson is a co-chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The House pushed money toward the K-12 budget this year, though not all made it into the final budget.

"These three legislative leaders were courageous, strong and vocal for public school educators and students this past short session, and our educators are going to be strong and vocal in working for their re-election this November," NCAE President Rodney Ellis said in a statement.

On the Budget: Linda Johnson

Linda JohnsonRep. Linda Johnson
Kannapolis Republican
Fifth Term

What two things would you cut in the state budget? "I would try to find programs that I could merge the administrative expenses."

Are there any taxes you would be in favor of increasing? She said she would be in favor of allowing towns, cities and counties to have local-option taxes.

— Mark Johnson 

Smokers Caucus

In light of the smoking ban failure, a reader asked Dome which legislators smoke.

Obviously, that depends on your definition. If the occasional celebratory cigar counted, some of us here at Dome might be classified as smokers.

But there are a few lawmakers who are known to light up.

We have learned from a reliable source in the smoking area in front of the General Assembly, that the following legislators are part of, shall we say, the Smokers Caucus: Sen. Steve Goss and Reps. Larry Womble, Earline Parmon, Linda Johnson and Daniel McComas.

Rep. Mickey Michaux reportedly quit smoking recently.

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