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What's on the menu? Gubernatorial grits and good conversation

Since the first week of the legislative session, Gov. Pat McCrory has invited 29 state lawmakers to breakfast at the mansion.

The roster includes powerful Republicans -- House and Senate majority leaders and committee chairs -- but not one Democrat, according to a list of names received by The News & Observer through a records request.

Dollar counters PPP poll with one showing him leading by a lot

Following a PPP poll on Thursday that showed incumbent state Rep. Nelson Dollar leading Democratic challenger Lisa Baker by only four percentage points, Dollar on Friday released a poll giving him a strong lead.

The survey taken Tuesday and Wednesday shows Dollar leading by 47 to 32 percent.

Inside the clockwork at the state legislature


To add context to the unprecedented midnight session last week, the N&O analyzed more than 19,000 votes at the N.C. General Assembly since 2001 to see how often lawmakers took action in the early morning hours.

Nowhere did we find lawmakers starting a different session after midnight -- that remains its own record. But the analysis found that less than 1 percent of all votes are cast after midnight. It weakens Republican claims that late votes are common and adds weight to Democrats and open government advocates concerns about transparency. To read the full story, go here. And here's a few more interesting facts:

-- 7 a.m. was the only hour in which a vote was not taken.

-- Of the 170 votes taken between 12:01 a.m. and 6:23 a.m., the top three issues were the budget, education and taxes.

-- The bulk of votes – 45 percent – occurred between 2 and 5 p.m.

-- 2001 and 2008 were the only years without post-midnight votes.

-- In 2010, during the short session under Democratic leaders Marc Basnight and Joe Hackney, there were 31 votes after midnight, nearly 4 percent of all votes taken that year.

Claims Dept.: Midnight sessions and votes are not usual

Claim: “Sessions that clock in at 12:01 at night are not unusual in the General Assembly at all.”

State Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Cary in an interview with The News & Observer.

Explanation: To defend the secretive midnight legislative session, state Rep. Nelson Dollar, a top Republican, said sessions that start after midnight are “not unusual … at all.” Or accounting for the double negative, he says they are usual.

Not so. A News & Observer analysis of House and Senate votes since 2001 shows votes in the early morning hours after midnight account for less than 1 percent of the total, making them rare.

Presented with the data and asked for more explanation, Dollar said he was trying to make the point that early morning votes are “not an unprecedented thing.” On this point, he is correct. But Dollar’s initial remark was not as precise.

Ruling: False

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