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Morning Memo: The recasting of Gov. McCrory? Unraveling his shifts

PAT McCRORY LINKS MEDICAID REFORMS TO TEACHER PAY HIKES -- Governor pledges big announcement in coming months: Speaking at the Cary Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state's Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said.

Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state's implementation of the federal health program for people with low income.

"I'm going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we're going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That's coming in the next three, four months. I'll probably introduce them while the legislature's out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we're going to get raises to the teachers."

***McCrory appears to be charting a new course, but the administration is backtracking on a different education announcement. Read it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo***

Morning Memo: N.C. Dems host muted event; McCrory explores gambling deal

N.C. DEMS HOST MUTED CONFAB: The N.C. Democratic Party hosts its executive committee meeting Saturday in Greensboro but the fanfare from years past is missing. The evening Sanford Hunt Frye Dinner is merely a reception this year. The event is typically one of the party's larger fundraisers and Massachusettes Gov. Deval Patrick served as keynote speaker in 2012. This year, no headliner as a speaker and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan isn't even attending. It speaks to the party's still weakened status and lack of defining political leadership. A Democratic spokesman said the party opted for a reception because of the party's meeting is expected to last until 5 p.m. (But as anyone who has attended these in the past knows, they alwasy run long.) Former Gov. Jim Hunt and former state Supreme Court Justice Henry Frye, the event's namesakes, will address the party faithful.

McCRORY ADMINISTRATION EXPLORES MOVE TO EXPAND GAMBLING IN NORTH CAROLINA: Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is considering a potential deal to allow a South Carolina-based Indian tribe to open a casino just across the border in North Carolina in a move that is generating swift and fierce opposition from top Republican lawmakers. A new effort to expand gambling operations in the state could net North Carolina millions of dollars under a revenue-sharing agreement with the Catawba Indian Nation.

But it would carry significant political risk for McCrory, pitting the Republican governor against members of his own party.

***Read more on the potential casino deal below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

New York Times editorial page blog on voting/elections bill

There's no love lost between the state's Republican leadership and the New York Times editorial board, especially after its "Decline of North Carolina" editorial of July 9. Gov. Pat McCrory wrote a letter to the paper objecting. Sen. Tom Apodaca declared that he didn't read the Times.

But that isn't stopping the paper's editorial board, which posted an item on its blog declaring "North Carolina: First in Voter Suppression."

The legislature last week passed a giant package of voting and elections changes which will require photo ID at the polls, won't allow college students to use their school ID cards, will ban pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, among other changes.

McCrory said Friday he will sign the bill even though he wasn't familiar with some of the details.

11 Republicans switch votes, give bill new life

Proving that nothing is ever dead at the N.C. General Assembly, the Senate revived a measure to keep the Judicial Standards Commission's reprimands of judges secret.

The Senate voted down the measure a week ago, led by prominent Republicans who joined forces with Democrats, citing transparency concerns.

But 11 Republican senators switched votes Thursday when the bill resurfaced, approving it 28 to 14. The 11 who voted against it before they voted for it: Tom Apodaca, Chad Barefoot, Tamara Barringer, Kathy Harrington, Brent Jackson, Wesley Meredith, Louis Pate, Ron Rabon, Jeff Tarte, Tommy Tucker and Trudy Wade.

Wall St. Journal follows NYT with a love letter to NC GOP

The recent New York Times editorial lambasting North Carolina’s hard turn to the right met with apparent indifference in the General Assembly, where Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca said he cared more about what the Wall Street Journal thought. As if in response, the Journal’s editorial page came through with a piece on Friday praising Senate President Pro Tem’s Phil Berger’s tax plan.

“The burning heart of liberal activism and indignation this summer can be found, of all places, in the charming capital city of the Tar Heel State,” the Journal’s Stephen Moore writes.

Moore turns to the old “agitators” label for the “Moral Monday” protesters (avoiding the governor’s pitfall of also calling them “outsiders”), and concludes they’re mad about everything – especially the prospect of the GOP cutting back funding for some of the “left-wing groups sponsoring these rallies.”

Moore’s piece concludes that the Senate Republicans’ tax overhaul will spur growth and create jobs. What it means, politically, down the road in a swing state is an open question, he concedes.

“But as longtime Republican strategist Marc Rotterman told me last week, there is a potentially fatal flaw to the whole ‘Moral Monday’ strategy: ‘The core problem is the protesters are denouncing policies like tax cuts and welfare reforms that may be unpopular with the New York Times, but are very popular with mainstream North Carolinians.’” Moore writes. “That is the big bet the state's Republicans are making -- and come November 2014, we'll see if it pays off.”

Here’s the full article.

Senate defeats effort to make judicial reprimands confidential

The N.C. Senate voted down a measure to keep the Judicial Standards Commission's reprimands of judges secret.

In a 13-21 vote, prominent Republicans joined Democrats in a rare move to defeat the bill because it reduced government transparency. Senate Bill 652 was later revived but sent to the Senate Rules Committee where it is expected to remain without further action this session.

Under the legislation, a commission reprimand of a judge would remain confidential unless the N.C. Supreme Court concurs and makes it public.

Senate GOP debuts new, more restrictive voter ID bill

UPDATED: Senate Republicans debuted a new voter ID bill Thursday that removes a provision allowing college identification to cast ballots at the polls.

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca said he had concerns about accepting public and private college ID cards. But he said the college students would be eligible to get a free photo ID card from the state. The change will increase the cost of the bill but the price tag is unknown.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow for 751 South

A Senate vote on a bill requiring Durham to extend water and sewer lines to a residential and commercial development called 751 South has been put off for more than a week. The bill keeps showing up on the Senate calendar, then pushed off for a day. Day after day. The bill requires the extension of utility lines to the proposed development near the Chatham County line against the wishes of the Durham City Council.

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca said the Senate will vote before the session ends. The word is that the Senate is waiting for the House to send over a bill on Jordan Lake rules.

Apodaca: "I'm sick of the House"

Sen. Tom Apodaca scheduled Saturday votes on bills, though the House hasn't committed to staying the weekend. "We're here to work," Apodaca said. "I don't know what they want to do. I'm sick of the House."

The long session is winding down, though the legislature still has some big bills to pass. Apodcaca seemed eager for it to be over.

The Saturday session isn't certain, Apodaca said, though senators were told to be prepared to stay the weekend. "We'll see what the boss wants to do," he said.

Voter ID / election law bills possible Thursday

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca says it's possible bills on voter ID and elections law changes will roll out tomorrow morning at 10.

He's not certain about either one. Apodaca said negotiations with House Republicans are ongoing. The voter ID bill is more likely to be ready for debate tomorrow, he said.

The House passed a bill in April requiring voters show photo identification at the polls. Republicans have filed other bills that would change election laws, including proposals for shortening the early voting period, ending Sunday voting, and repealing same-day registration during early voting.

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