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Morning Memo: GOP not united on budget; Tillis explains abortion vote

REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE TO PASS THEIR OWN BUDGET: Ten House Republicans voted against their party's $20.6 billion spending plan, including one of the chief budget writers. GOP leaders held an extra lengthy caucus meeting Tuesday to whip members to vote for the bill but hours before hand lobbyists reported that it looked like it could fail.

The House passed the budget on a 66-52 preliminary vote. … It’s somewhat unusual for the majority party to lose more than a handful of its members’ on a budget vote. It’s even rarer for a budget committee leader to vote against the budget as did Rep. Linda Johnson, a Kannapolis Republican.“I was not pleased with the education budget,” Johnson said. (More below.)

THOM TILLIS SETS HIS ABORTION VOTE STRAIGHT: Every move House Speaker Thom Tillis makes is viewed through the prism of his U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. And for weeks the Republican's rationale for supporting the House's much-debated abortion measure remained quiet. Asked about it Tuesday, Tillis said "it happens to be something that I support and I thought if I didn't, they'd say, 'Why didn't you?' so I thought would solve the question by making it very clear where I stood on the bill." It puts Tillis, who is considered a moderate Republican, in the same position as Rick Santorum. (Read why below.)

***Keep reading for more North Carolina political intelligence in today's Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

House and Senate bickering again on boards bill

UPDATED: The House and Senate are at odds again.

The two legislative chambers -- both controlled by Republicans -- blew up earlier this session with disagreements about Senate Bill 10, a bill that sweeps clean many state boards and commissions. That is, until the House and Senate conference committee agreed on a version Wednesday.

But now that compromise is off. The Senate approved the conference report Thursday but the House unanimously rejected it. (See more about the changes below.) Sen. Tom Apodaca, the lead Senate sponsor, appeared frustrated. He suggested the bill is done in its current form. "We are not going back to the table on Senate bill 10," he said. "I guess it’s dead."

The bill could be revived with parliamentary moves, or folded into a different bill.

Emerging from conference, bill restricts state's study of climate change

In a closed-door conference committee, Republican lawmakers appeared to add a provision to a bill that would prohibit any state agency from developing or implementing a plan to address climate change unless authorized by the legislature .

The new language appears in Senate Bill 10 -- a controversial measure that sweeps clean several key boards and commissions, wiping off Democratic appointees to make room for GOP favorites. The Senate rushed the bill through early in the session but the House balked and wrote its own version. The bill emerged from a secretive conference committee Wednesday and appears on the House calendar for action Thursday. It's not clear whether the House will consider the measure today.

Morning Memo: Gift ban repeal dead, Hahn investigation seeks motive

TILLIS SAYS LOBBYIST GIFT BAN WILL REMAIN INTACT: House Speaker Thom Tillis took to Twitter this week to declare Republican Robert Brawley's bill to lift the ban on lobbyists giving lawmakers gifts is dead. "Benny, does the fact that the bill is dead give you any idea?" @thomtillis wrote. The speaker's office confirmed the 10:10 p.m. Tuesday tweet was legit. Tillis addressed the response to Benjamin Ray, an operative at the N.C. Democratic Party pushing Tillis on the issue and tying it to his office's controversial past with lobbyists and the fact the bill came from one of his committee chairman.

MOTIVE FOR JAMIE HAHN'S STABBING TURNS TO CAMPAIGN MONEY: As the Triangle mourned slain political strategist Jamie Hahn on Wednesday, attention turned to whether the man who police say stabbed her had made questionable campaign finance reports while working for Hahn’s firm. More on the story below.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- click below for much, much more from a busy day in N.C. politics. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

Some in GOP concerned with Republicans overreaching

The Senate GOP-driven bill to replace the members of key state commissions with new appointees and, in some cases, to make the panels more business-friendly, continues to make some Republicans uncomfortable.

On Thursday, SB10 cleared the House with a resounding 70-42 vote (with Republican Reps. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville and freshman Michael Speciale of New Bern voting against it). But the vote belied serious reservations within the GOP.

Veteran Rep. John Blust, a Greensboro Republican, voted for the bill but warned his colleagues about overreaching the mandate that put his party in charge of state government.

“I don’t like this idea, ‘Well we have the power, let’s go ahead and do it,’” Blust said on the floor. “Just because we have power we need to be judicious with it. I wish we would be more careful with it. The people have the right to yank us in two years and put someone else in.”

Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges

The Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved the bill that would give Republican legislators and the GOP governor the power to remove all members of several key boards and commissions and replace them with their own choices.

Republicans agreed to take another day for the final vote.

The approval along party lines came despite warnings from Democrats that the bill could be unconstitutional because the General Assembly is not allowed to remove individual judges from office. Republicans said it's OK to eliminate the positions of 12 special superior court judges, who often travel around the state to hear cases.

1360188338 Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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