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Bucking speaker, House Republican committee chair resigns post

In a rare move, a leading Republican lawmaker resigned his committee chairmanship Wednesday, citing a litany of differences with House Speaker Thom Tillis and accusing him of a conflict of interest.

It's the second time in less than a month that a Republican lawmaker broke ranks to condemn Tillis' leadership as he considers a bid to challenge U.S. Sen.Kay Hagan in 2014.

Rep. Robert Brawley of Mooresville's decided to step down as a Finance Committee chairman in a letter that listed four reasons, including the speaker's apparent business relationship with Time Warner. "You slamming my office door shut, standing in front of me and state that you have a business relationship with Time Warner and wanting to know what the bill was about," Brawley wrote, not mentioning the specific legislation. "You and I both know the bill stifles the competition with MI Connections in Mooresville."

Brawley also asserts that the House's vote in last year to make the N.C. Bail Agents Association the only group allowed to certify bondsmen gave a monopoly to Rep. Justin Burr's family. (The bondsmen dispute was thesubject of a 2012 article in the News & Observer.) Burr's father, Phil Burr, is the current president of the association. The junior Burr excused himself from the vote. A judge later issued an injunction blocking the law.

"I look forward to working with you and the Republican team for Republican goals and objectives, but I reserve the right to continue to represent my district and to fight for what I believe is American," Brawley wrote.

Morning Roundup: McCrory-Dalton debate likely to get overshadowed

North Carolina’s major candidates for governor will hold the first of three statewide televised debates Wednesday, in a match-up that could be overshadowed – like much of their campaign – by the presidential contest.

The debate, sponsored by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation, was designed to piggyback on interest in the presidential debate. But not everyone is convinced that the governor’s debate will benefit from the pairing. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Five weeks before Election Day, about 14,000 North Carolina voters already have cast absentee ballots – a total equal to President Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. The number is etched into the minds of conservatives who are placing a greater emphasis than ever this year on absentee voting by mail, suggesting it could make the difference in another tight election contest.

Morning Roundup: At last minute, lawmakers write bill to eliminate business

During the final days of the legislative session, while attention was divided among countless bills, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of legislation that props up a longstanding organization and pushes a recently formed competitor out of operation.

Senate Bill 738, which now sits on Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk, stipulates that bail bondsmen in the state receive their required training from the N.C. Bail Agents Association, a private nonprofit with an affiliated political action committee. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Two miles of concrete barriers. More than five miles of 9-foot “anti-scale” steel fence. Nearly eight miles of lightweight metal barriers, and portable vehicle barriers designed to withstand the impact of a 15,000-pound car at 50 mph. These are some of items the Secret Service is seeking to protect the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, according to a federal government contract request released this week.

Groups supporting the mentally ill bash jail bill

Eleven groups have joined to fight a bill that would end pre-trial release programs and require mentally ill people to stay in jail for 48 hours after arrest. 

Thirty-two counties run pre-trial release programs, which try to prevent jail overcrowding by monitoring defendants who are released without bond prior to their court date. 

Under the bill, pretrial release employees would not be able to interview defendants for at least 48 hours after their arrest. The bill's supporters say pre-trial release competes with the bail bond industry, and government should not compete with private business. 

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