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Morning Memo: GOP Senate hopefuls take hard line on defunding Obamacare

North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates are taking a hard line on federal budget negotiations – a position that puts them at odds with the state’s lone GOP senator, Richard Burr.

Four Republican candidates said Monday they support efforts to defund the federal health care act, apparently even if those efforts lead to a government shutdown. Their comments came the same day state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced he won’t join those running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.

***Read more from the GOP candidates -- reaction to Berger's decision -- below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: New poll gives Hagan the edge; Hillary Clinton bashes NC voter law

U.S. SENATE POLL: Politico is offering a sneak peek at the latest U.S. Senate poll numbers in North Carolina this morning. Public Policy Polling shows Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan with an eight-point edge in hypothetical matchups against Republicans Thom Tillis and Phil Berger. Both legislative leaders, along with other possible candidates, have negative approval ratings with many voters still not sure what to think. The margin of error is 4 percentage points. Look for more numbers from PPP when the poll is released later today.

VOTER ID, ELECTIONS BILL SIGNED: The implications of Gov. Pat McCrory's signature on the elections bill that requires a voter ID at the polls is far-reaching -- and so is the coverage. Get a round up below -- including Hillary Clinton's comments on the bill, a new PPP poll showing it unfavorable and more. Also, a story from Boone shows Republicans taking over local elections boards will likewise mean major changes.

***The Dome Morning Memo continues below. Thanks for reading.***

With limited debate, House approves tax cut measure

Cutting off debate after less than 30 minutes, N.C. House Republicans gave preliminary approval to a sweeping tax cut measure that debuted less 16 hours earlier.

The 77-38 vote came mostly along partisan lines with House Speaker Thom Tillis casting a vote in favor. The House will give the measure a final approval Wednesday.

The bulk of the debate focused on who will pay more and who will pay less, with Democrats casting it as tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases for the poor.

Morning Memo: NC's new brand; protests expected to swell

NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW BRAND: "North Carolina’s national brand may be changing – but not the way Gov. Pat McCrory intended when he talked during his campaign about the Tar Heel state undergoing an image makeover," writes columnist Rob Christensen. "… The new brand that McCrory seems to want is that North Carolina is more business-friendly. But since he took office in January, the state has been undergoing a brand change of a very different kind. The sharp rightward turn of the legislature and the Moral Monday protests have turned North Carolina into one of the nation’s top political spectacles. … The national coverage is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Unfortunately for North Carolina, it may also be the wrong kind of publicity." Read more here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night. The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools. The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May. Also back: Moral Monday demonstrations, which are expected to draw huge crowds after the Senate's approval of a major abortion bill.

***Get a complete roundup of political news from the extended holiday weekend below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

In budget negotiation, 24 is a crowd

House Speaker Thom Tillis appointed 23 legislators, or nearly one-third of Republican House members, to the conference committee that will sign off on the budget compromise with the Senate. Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary is leading the House conference committee.

The Senate has six conferees, with Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Winson-Salem leading the team.

The House and Senate each passed $20.6 billion budgets, but negotiators must work out numerous policy differences.

Update: The stop-gap budget is real. The Senate budget committee will meet Tuesday morning with a continuing resolution on its agenda.

Stop-gap budget up for discussion next week

Legislators will talk next week about passing a stop-gap budget that will allow the state to function past June 30 if there's no big budget agreement by then.

House Speaker Thom Tillis raised the possibility of a continuing resolution, or a CR, on Thursday.

The House and Senate passed $20.6 billion budgets, but they differ significantly in some details. And, the legislature cannot pass a budget before members agree on a new tax code.

"The tax reform numbers have implications for the budget," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican and House budget writer.

A CR is "more likely than not," he said.

House GOP caucus revolt blocks tax overhaul efforts

UPDATED: A split in the House Republican Caucus exploded into the open Wednesday morning, throwing a major tax bill into further jeopardy.

House Republican leaders, led by Speaker Thom Tillis, sought to strip a provision added to the bill a day earlier that added $500 million in cost. But a cadre of Republicans and Democrats joined forces in the Appropriations Committee to block a proposed substitute bill from even being considered.

The move left the House tax overhaul -- the top GOP agenda item this session -- in limbo and the lawmakers bewildered. Committee Chairman Nelson Dollar left the meeting dumbfounded and unable to find the words to explain what happened. Other clumps of Republicans huddled in the corners of the committee room, discussing one of the largest fissures in the Republican Caucus this session.

House budget target date, June 13

House leaders plan to get a final vote on its budget proposal on June 13, said Rep. Nelson Dollar, one of the chief budget writers.

House budget subcommittees started their budget review today. The subcommittees will vote at the end of next week, the Cary Republican said.

The plan will go to the full budget committee and to the House floor the week of June 10.

The Senate passed its $20.6 billion proposal last week with a place holder for a tax cut, even though Senate leaders haven't presented, much less brought to a vote, a bill that would change the tax code.

The House has a different ideas for a tax code overhaul. Dollar said it hasn't been decided how the House budget will handle any changes to tax revenue resulting from changes in the tax code.

Hager's bill to end state's renewables standard refuses to die

Rep. Mike Hager's bill to rid the state of its renewables energy mandate refuses to die.

The bill was voted down in Hager's own committee last week 18-13, but he's got it scheduled to be taken up again in the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy on Wednesday.

Hager was unavailable for comment but Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina director for the Arlington, Va.-based Americans for Prosperity, which has supported Hager's bill, offered his opinion: “While there was not the right mix in the committee on that day, some of them may need more education.”

That presumably includes Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, chair of the House Rules Committee; Conference Leader Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County; and Wake County’s Nelson Dollar, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. All three voted against the bill. Read the full story here.

Rep. Dollar: "Failures and traps" of commercial managed care

State Rep. Nelson Dollar responded carefully last week when asked about Gov. Pat McCrory's plan to open the state's Medicaid business to management by private companies. ("We need more details"- that kind of thing.)

The Cary Republican was less guarded in an email responding to a column by John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation. Hood praised McCrory's move.

Dollar has been big supporter of Community Care North Carolina, a home-grown Medicaid managed care network run by doctors. CCNC would not continue in its current form if McCrory's plan is approved.

"Read John's piece and there continues to be misconceptions as to the role of CCNC as well as the nature of the problems we've addressed the last two years," Dollar wrote.

"More important other states with co-called "competitive contracts" are having just as many challenges as everyone else. We have the foundation to do something truly innovative I hope we don't opt for the failures and traps of commercial managed care."

Dollar is a chairman of the House budget committee, a job he held last year.

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