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Senate follows House in overriding both vetoes

The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before.

There was never any real question about what the Senate would do, with its firm Republican majority, even though Democrats who had supported the bills in July lined up in favor of sustaining the vetoes on Wednesday. They failed to pick up GOP support for the vetoes.

Democrats offered no debate, however, and so both overrides were accomplished in just six minutes.

Afterward, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger echoed House Speaker Thom Tillis’ remarks from Tuesday downplaying the political damage that Gov. Pat McCrory might have incurred from losing the veto fight.

Morning Memo: Kids have a deadline, teachers might get a new deadline

Hey kids, today's the last day you can pre-register to vote if you're 16 or 17. Applications are available at your county board of elections, the public library and your high school. You can even do it at the DMV while getting your learner's permit or driver's license. But like we said, this is the last day because the election law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory does away with pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. And that's your Civics lesson this Friday morning. Welcome to Dome's Morning Memo and thanks for reading.

Rucho resigns as co-chair over tax reform standoff with Berger

Updated Sate Sen. Bob Rucho has resigned his position as co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in a dispute with the Senate's Republican leader over competing tax bills.

The Meckenburg County Republican prepared a detailed tax-reform bill earlier this year. But this week, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger crafted his own plan, calling it a compromise among Rucho's plan, a House plan and what Berger wants to see.

The Associated Press broke the story. Rucho says in his letter he and Berger have a "fundamental disagreement" over the issue.

"It is a huge disappointment that the Governor and the Speaker of the House did not provide the leadership or have the political backbone to fight the special-interest groups," Rucho wrote.

Rucho's bill would expand services subject to sales taxes, which Berger's plan does not.

Rucho spoke briefly with Dome this morning and said he thought a legislative meeting earlier this year with economists showed "a clear pathway" to tax reform, which his bill reflected.

"There just seemed to be a lot of resistance from a lot of special interest groups that would rather have loopholes than fair tax policy," Rucho said.

Update: Berger's office has released a letter in response, in which Berger "respectfully declines to accept" Rucho's resignation.

Berger not happy with McCrory's position on Dix

It’s nice that the governor and Raleigh’s mayor are getting all bipartisan over the Dix deal and all, but it still ain’t right.

That’s the message from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger on Thursday, following Gov. Pat McCrory’s and Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s news conference earlier in the day.

“We appreciate that the governor and Raleigh mayor are attempting to make things right for the taxpayers of North Carolina and the state’s mentally ill,” Berger said in a statement his office released. “But it is difficult to understand why they are extending an unlawful leave.

“This proposed agreement delays doing the right thing until 2014 – why not do the right thing today?”

House OKs bill delaying school grading system that Senate GOP leaders want

Legislation delaying a new grading system for North Carolina's public schools passed the state House with near-unanimous support Thursday, leading to a showdown with Senate Republican leaders, The N&O's Keung Hui reports.

The bill, H435, would delay until Aug. 1, 2014 the release of A through F letter grades for individual schools based on factors such as passing rates on exams and graduation rates. The grading system, which was introduced by Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger as past of last year's budget, is set to start this year.

The House bill would also make it easier for schools to get higher grades than Berger's model. The House would let schools raise their letter grade if they're showing growth on exams even if their passing rates is low.

The House bill, which passed by a 105-4 vote, now goes to the Senate.

The Senate Education Committee will consider Wednesday Berger's bill, S361. It would, among other things, set out how the grading system would work and end tenure for teachers.

Berger introduces second wave of education reform: teacher pay, tenure, school grading and limits on year-end tests

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger on Tuesday unveiled what he called the second round of education reforms aimed at holding schools and teachers more accountable for students’ progress – including ending tenure and grading entire schools.

“The days of accepting a broken education system in North Carolina are over,” Berger said at a news conference flanked by several Republican senators. “We must continue to demand better and positive change for our kids.”

Berger characterized the plan – outlined in Senate Bill 361, filed Tuesday – as one that will improve literacy and graduation rates.

1363721687 Berger introduces second wave of education reform: teacher pay, tenure, school grading and limits on year-end tests The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout

Senate President Pro Team Phil Berger's campaign website perpetuates one of the bigger myths of the Affordable Care Act: that the government is coming to get your health records.

A lawsuit accuses Blue Cross plans nationwide of driving up health-care costs by illegally carving up the nation's insurance market. It's an issue North Carolina's General Assembly has tried to deal with going back several years.

The state's DMV headquarters on New Bern Avenue has been in the dark -- really -- since a short circuit Thursday morning caused an outage . Repairs should be completed over the weekend.

1360418968 Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Berger named to national post

State Senate leader Phil Berger has been named chairman of an influential national GOP group, the executive committee of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee.

The organization works to put more Republicans in state legislatures across the country. It claimed several victories in the 2012 cycle, including a net gain in 30 chambers and reaching veto-proof majorities in 16 states.

Berger skips olive branch, lays out plans to fix state's problems

Senate leader Phil Berger, on the first day of the new General Assembly’s 2013 session, didn’t exactly offer an olive branch to the minority party Wednesday.

During his remarks on the Senate floor, the Republican from Eden fired a few broadsides at Democrats, as he heralded in an era that hasn’t been seen since the 19th century: the GOP controlling the executive branch as well as both chambers of the General Assembly.


Sen. Hunt will co-chair budget committee

The Triangle will have a state senator on one of the most important committees in the General Assembly next session. Sen. Neal Hunt, a four-term Republican from Raleigh, will be one of three co-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget.

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