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Rep. Deborah Ross officially leaves office Saturday

Updated

Rep. Deborah Ross will officially leave the state House as of Saturday. That’s the word from House Speaker Thom Tillis, who made the announcement from the floor on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a round of applause.

The six-term Raleigh Democrat announced earlier this year she would be leaving to take a job as general counsel at Triangle Transit. But it wasn’t clear when she would depart.

Now that Wake County Democrats have chosen her successor, former Rep. Grier Martin, the transition can follow. Ross and Martin were double-bunked in redistricting, and Martin bowed out.

House passes investigative grand jury bill

Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Tuesday hailing the passage in the House of a bill that would allow prosecutors to use investigative grand juries.

“This is an important step in our fight against public corruption,” Cooper said in a statement his office released. “Investigative grand juries are a critical tool that can help uncover the truth and assure that wrongdoing by public officials will be prosecuted.”

HB908 would allow it in cases of public corruption and complex financial crimes. A three-judge panel would have to grant permission.

House passes gun bill; Democrats object to GOP tactic tabling amendments

As expected, the state House on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to bring their firearms into bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, college campuses and parks.

Approval of what is likely the major gun bill of the session – by a vote of 78-42 -- came after lengthy debate on Monday and Tuesday. Democrats emphatically complained that the GOP leadership repeatedly thwarted their efforts to amend the bill.

Republicans used a legislative maneuver to table proposed amendments 12 times (once for a Republican amendment). Before Tuesday’s session, Democratic lawmakers called a news conference to complain about the tactic limiting the debate.

A trio of Democrats who might lead them from the wilderness

Whither, N.C. Democrats?

For the most part, the state’s Democratic candidates were knocked back on their heels by the Nov. 6 election. That followed a legislative session in which the GOP pretty much got most of what it wanted, and scandal at the party headquarters.

Is there hope for Democratic leadership? Veteran Democratic politico Gary Pearce thinks so. In the blog he shares with conservative Carter Wrenn, Pearce recently named three  leaders to watch:

GOP uses obscure rule to shut down Democratic budget amendment

House Speaker Thom Tillis and GOP leaders used an obscure rule to protect what Democrats call an inauguration "slush fund" in the state budget.

Rep. Deborah Ross, a Raleigh Democrat, proposed taking the extra $330,000 Republicans earmarked for the next governor's inauguration and transition and putting it toward a federal matching grant for Help America Vote Act money. Another provision pulled in $230,000 through the state's budget office.

The state needs to spent about $664,000 to  get $4 million in federal money designed to open early voting sites and test voting machine equipment. The House and Senate included the money in their respective budgets but stripped it from the final version.

Grier Martin to retire from legislature; Deborah Ross to campaign for the seat

UPDATED: Raleigh state Rep. Grier Martin will not seek re-election, avoiding a potentially contentious primary against Democratic ally Deborah Ross for House District 34.

Ross, a 10-year House veteran, said she will campaign in the reshuffled Wake County district, which includes part of her old territory. The Republican-led redistricting effort double-bunked Martin and Ross, pitting them against each other in a Democratic primary if they both sought re-election.

Overheard: Is gender an issue in a Democratic Ross-Martin race?

Raleigh voters are receiving an interesting survey about a potential Democratic primary between state Reps. Deborah Ross and Grier Martin.

The survey -- apparently conducted by an outfit called Voter Rollcall -- is asking voters whether gender make a difference in who they would support, if all other things are equal. Of course, in a race between Ross and Martin, close friends and political allies, most things are equal, except gender. The two lawmakers are double-bunked in 2012 by the GOP-led redistricting but both have vowed to seek re-election. Further details about the call and its sponsor were not immediately available.

Candidates emerge in local legislative races

With candidate filing starting Monday, state legislative races are getting interesting.

In District 38, a Wake County open seat created in the GOP-led redistricting, four Democrats are making a bid. Lee Sartain, a 30-year-old Raleigh Democrat, is the latest to join the race, making an official announcement Tuesday. He joins Lindy Brown, a former Wake County commissioner, who recently unveiled her new campaign website.

Abeni El-Amin and Yvonne Lewis Holley are also looking to make a run for the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross.

Republicans moved Ross to House District 34, double-bunking her with close friends and fellow Democrat Rep. Grier Martin. And at this point, it appears Ross and Martin may challenge each other in a Democratic primary.

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