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Morning Memo: Tillis to face questions, Carolina Panthers want state money

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House Speaker Thom Tillis will offer a preview of the legislative session this morning in a closely watched press conference. His Republican counterpart in the Senate, President Pro Tem Phil Berger, did the same earlier this month and how the two visions dovetail -- or don't -- may set the tone for this year's term.

Three questions for Tillis: 1. Where does the Republican speaker stand on taxes? Like Gov. Pat McCrory, Tillis has been careful not to stake a specific position in recent days but with the session upon us, his direction is important to the anticipated legislation and its progress. 2. Does he support the Carolina Panther's request for state money for upgrades to the private Bank of America Stadium and the city of Charlotte's efforts to raise the food tax to fund renovations? 3. His GOP lieutenants in the House appear willing to push ahead with unemployment benefit cuts despite a federal prohibition -- meaning 85,000 jobless people in North Carolina will lose their federal benefits. How does the GOP avoid looking callous in a time of great need?

***This is the Dome Morning Memo, good morning. One day until the legislative session starts in earnest. Read below for more N.C. political intelligence and big headlines. ***

Former Raleigh mayor heads Ports Authority

Tom Bradshaw, a former mayor of Raleigh and once head of the state Department of Transportation, has taken over as the new executive director of the N.C. State Ports Authority.

Bradshaw, who was an investment banker by profession, takes over the position in an upper-management shift. Carl Stewart Jr. is leaving as chairman of the Ports Authority Board of Directors, the Wilmington Star-News reports.

Bradshaw back at DOT

Tom Bradshaw, the former state Transportation secretary and former Raleigh mayor, will start work Monday as North Carolina's interim Statewide Logistics Coordinator.

In the Department of Transportation post, Bradshaw oversee and manage all operations of the N.C. Ports and the N.C. Global Transpark, as well as other facilities related to transportation infrastructure.

“Tom brings a wealth of real-world experience and knowledge to this position that will greatly benefit the future of North Carolina,” said DOT secretary Gene Conti.

Bradshaw, a long-time finance industry executive, is only taking the job temporarily until a permanent coordinator can be found.

Bradshaw was DOT under Gov. Jim Hunt from 1977 until 1981 and served as Raleigh mayor from 1971-73. He is a former chairman of the Triangle J. Council of Governments, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, and the N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry, now known as the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE: He will be paid at a rate of $150,000 per year.

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