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NC Bar Association asks governor to veto judicial discipline secrecy bill

CORRECTED: The Senate vote totals have been corrected.

The state’s main professional organization for lawyers on Tuesday asked the governor to veto a bill that would protect from public disclosure judges who are disciplined.

HB652 would take away the authority of the Judicial Standards Commission to issue public reprimands, unless the state Supreme Court agrees and discloses the information. It would also make disciplinary hearings private and keep case records confidential, unless the Supreme Court takes disciplinary action.

The bill would also let the Supreme Court discipline its own members, instead of assigning those cases to the most senior six judges on the state Court of Appeals.

"Ag-gag" bill still being tweaked; would outlaw lawsuit loan industry

Senators are still tinkering with a bill that would make undercover investigations of companies illegal in North Carolina.

The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday took a look at the latest version of the bill, SB648, but members had concerns, which will be addressed in another revision. Not all of the concerns had to do with the undercover investigations provision. The bill includes several unrelated provisions, including a new section outlawing the lawsuit loan industry.

Ethics amendment politely tabled

Amendments to the state budget were flying fast and furious leading up to the Senate’s approval on Wednesday.

One of them would have required any officeholder who fails to file a state economic disclosure form within 60 days could be removed from office immediately.

That proposal came from Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Democrat from Guilford County, but it didn’t get anywhere.

Rules Chairman Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Hendersonville Republican, had it tabled – but in a nice way.

“It has a lot of merit,” he said. “I just don’t think the budget is the place to put it. It needs to be discussed thoroughly and looked at. It’s a major policy change that’s probably needed.”

Morning Memo: McCrory to announce DOT plan, votes on drug testing and a Medicaid debate

Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to tell us how he wants to pay for new roads at 9:30 today. The governor's office has been tight-lipped saying only that he'll be making a transportation policy announcement. Looking for clues in the location he's chosen for his announcement — the NC History Museum — Dome will point out that it houses Richard Petty's advertising-ladened stock car. For those playing McCrory bing, key words will be public, private, customer and service.

***Good morning, and with the end of the week in sight, welcome to Dome Morning Memo, a look at the day ahead and a roundup of the news you might have missed Wednesday.

Morning Memo: Charlotte issues, legislation thwart McCrory announcement

CHARLOTTE ISSUES STEAL McCRORY'S THUNDER: Gov. Pat McCrory triumphantly returned to his home city Monday for an economic development announcement -- but you wouldn't know it from the front page of The Charlotte Observer this morning. Two controversial local issues -- control of the airport and Carolina Panthers stadium upgrades -- stole the show and the front page. McCrory punted on the airport issues but said the effort to transfer control from the city to an independent authority needed more thought. And on stadium upgrades, McCrory said no to the use of state money. (More on those stories below.) Expect more of the same today, when McCrory holds a press conference with the Metro Mayors Coalition but will likely face myriad questions about voter ID and other legislation.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will convene at 2 p.m. but no votes are expected; the Senate opens at 2:30 p.m. to consider a handful of legislation on the calendar. The action is on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk where four bills await his signature -- including a bill to block Medicaid expansion and prohibit a state-based exchange. McCrory's press conference starts at 2:15 p.m.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a tipsheet for North Carolina politics. Send news and tips to ***

Morning Roundup: Payday lending returns, Raleigh wants limits on sweepstakes poker

A bill would bring back payday lending in North Carolina, even though the attorney general shut them down in 2006. This time, a key senator has thrown his weight behind it.

Raleigh's city council wants to regulate Internet sweepstakes parlors after a judge failed to shut down the operations recently.

Lobby-free zone expands

You might have missed the very first vote of the new General Assembly this week.

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution establishing rules for the session, including banning lobbyists from rushing onto the floor after the end of each day's session.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville, said it was a 15-minute "cooling off" period, during which lobbyists will not be allowed. Lobbyists can continue to stake out lawmakers outside the chambers, and catch them as they retreat to their offices or as they arrive.

Senate: 'One way or another, we are going home tomorrow'

While the politicos wait to see if the House can override Gov. Bev Perdue's budget veto, the Senate indicated it is is ready to leave town, override or no.

The Senate Rules Committee passed a resolution saying the legislative session will end tomorrow. "It's time to get the hell out of here," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, Rules Committee chairman. "One way or another, we are going home tomorrow."

Senate refers Perdue inquiry to state Ethics Commission

The state Senate Rules Committee has voted to refer the results of its inquiry into altered Department of Transportation letters to the state Ethics Commission, which probes ethical matters in North Carolina.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said the commission must review the actions of state employees who took steps to change letters sent to lawmakers that altered the position of a top DOT official on a roads funding issue. More here.

Senate probe into Perdue letter continues

From AP: A North Carolina senator wants to hear from more state employees before deciding how to respond to Gov. Bev Perdue's administration officials changing letters from a Department of Transportation executive without his approval.

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