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Democrats, advocates call for "common sense" on abortion bill

Pro-abortion-rights speakers emphasized the lack of female-healthcare providers’ involvement in the political process during a Tuesday Democratic Women’s Caucus press conference.

Arguing against the omnibus abortion bill, Paige Johnson, Planned Parenthood of Central N.C.’s vice president of external affairs, maintained that safety is the organization’s top priority.

She said that though it would restrict women’s rights to choose, she would be willing to work with lawmakers to improve the bill. But no women’s health experts were allowed to testify while it was still eligible for amendments.

“If their goal…is not to shut down providers of safe and legal abortion but rather to make the procedures safer…for women, then why not involve the providers of this healthcare?” she said.

Bill would restrict teens' access to pregnancy, other health care

Young people wouldn’t be able to get medical treatment for pregnancy, venereal disease, substance abuse or mental illness without their parents’ or guardian’s written consent, under a bill filed this week.

SB675 adds those restrictions to the state law that already requires unemancipated minors receive that permission before they can have abortions.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina issued a statement Thursday saying such a law would deny youths access to confidential and potentially life-saving health care.

The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton, Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro, Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson and Sen. Chad Barefoot, who represents parts of Wake and Franklin counties. All are Republicans.

Morning Memo: McCrory to talk higher ed, lawmakers to approve Medicaid bill

GOV. McCRORY TO TALK HIGHER ED: Weeks after he stuck his foot in his mouth, Gov. Pat McCrory will make a speech about higher education and the role of innovation in the university economic growth. The Republican governor made controversial comments about changing the higher education funding formula to reflect job output from colleges, not how many students enroll, and he also suggested the state shouldn't subsidize liberal arts classes like gender studies. The noon speech is at N.C. State.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House and Senate leaders appear ready to agree on a bill to block the expansion of Medcaid to 500,000 North Carolinians. The conference report is on the calendar for concurrence and then would go to the governor. But the topless bill is no longer on the calendar. On Monday, Republicans sent it back to committee. Buncombe Rep. Tim Moffitt told AP the delay would give time for consultations with Senate lawmakers. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will hold a call this morning to discuss the ramifications of the federal budget impasse on North Carolina.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo, get more political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: Which bill will McCrory sign first?

LAWMAKERS THROW McCRORY A BONE: The first bill to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk is likely to be a measure to cut unemployment benefits for the jobless. The Republican supports the bill but don't be surprised if it's not the first one he signs. The House worked late Wednesday to pass another bill designed to create two paths for high school graduates: technical schools or college. McCrory campaigned on this issue and Democrats expect to him to make it the first bill he signs. "The word on the street is that the governor wants to have a press conference on this," Democratic state Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham said on the House floor in criticizing the speed at which it progressed. The bill was heard in committee and given initial approval in the House in the same day.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: State Auditor Beth Wood appears before lawmakers this morning to talk about a recent audit showing troubles in the Medicaid system -- a documents Republicans are using as justification to block a Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law. A Senate committee will consider a measure to block public access to records about concealed weapons holders. On the House floor, House Speaker Thom Tillis is limiting debate on a controversial measure to block Medicaid expansion to 30 minutes. Lawmakers want to leave early today, in part, because it's Valentine's Day. McCrory is hosting more lawmakers for breakfast and lists no other public events.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for all the North Carolina political scuttlebutt. Much more below.

Morning Memo: McCrory wants to reject state exchange, Medicaid expansion

GOV. McCRORY SUPPORTS SENATE BILL 4 -- Rejects Medicaid expansion and state-sponsored health care exchange Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement Tuesday morning announcing he does not support expanding Medicaid to as many 500,000 people in North Carolina, many of them uninsured, and wants the federal government to set up an exchange for the state.

The announcement vanishes any thought McCrory may side with six other Republican governors and accept the money, a move considered a possibility among political observers given his moderate tendencies. His rationale is four-fold: audits show Medicaid is too "broken" to expand right now; the potential long-term costs can't be determined; state government didn't do enough to prepare under Gov. Bev Perdue; and federal matching funds aren't guaranteed given the political uncertainty in Washington

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m. Earlier in the day, House committees will consider a controversial Medicaid expansion bill, measures emphasizing digital learning and legislation about where to locate the Interstate 540 loop around Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory's environmental chief, John Skvarla, will appear before a Senate committee.

Thousands march on Raleigh against legislature

Thousands of people from across the state marched through downtown Raleigh on Saturday morning to persuade state lawmakers and a new governor to pass laws that make government more inclusive, less protective of the wealthy and better equipped to tackle poverty through greater access to health care and better schools.

The seventh annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street rally drew enough marchers to stretch from one end of downtown Fayetteville Street to the other. They squeezed into the plaza between the state history and natural sciences museums – a space that organizers say holds 10,000 people – to listen to speakers on a stage in front of the state legislative building.

It was an audience displeased with a government that is now firmly in Republican hands with the election of Pat McCrory as governor. Read more here.

Morning Memo: Senate GOP questioned on legality of power grab

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: No votes in the House on Thursday but the Senate is expected to give final approval to a bill to purge the state's boards of any Democratic appointees. Gov. Pat McCrory hosts legislators for a private breakfast and attends two closed-door events in Wake County. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is hosting a morning press conference to lay out his vision for the minority party amid GOP reign.

TEA PARTY GROUP MAY SCREEN GOP U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES: Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said his group may begin to support candidates in Republican primaries, the Daily Caller reports. The move could have implications on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race in 2014 -- which is expected to draw a robust field to challenge Democrat Kay Hagan. Americans for Prosperity is a tea party group that once held close ties to Gov. Pat McCrory's budget director, Art Pope, who led the national board and donated significantly to the organization.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more news and analysis of N.C. politics below.***

House pledges slower approach on Medicaid bill

The Republican-led Senate gave final approval to a bill drenched in politics Tuesday, even as Gov. Pat McCrory renewed his objections saying the measure could cost state taxpayers millions of dollars.

With the 32-17 vote, the bill now goes to the House, where Republican leaders plan to take slower approach. The legislation is designed to block the implementation of major parts of the federal health care law in North Carolina, preventing low-income residents from receiving health coverage under Medicaid and prohibiting a state-sponsored online marketplace for insurance policies.

The GOP-dominated Senate approved just days after it surfaced and used the debate to attack President Barack Obama’s health care law. The House plans to send it to a committee before a full vote. Neither are expected this week.

Snubbing McCrory, Senate approves limits to Medicaid expansion

Despite last-minute objections from Gov. Pat McCrory, the Republican-led state Senate pushed through legislation Monday evening that will prevent nearly 650,000 residents from getting health insurance and block the state from establishing a health care exchange.

The GOP supermajority used the 31-17 vote to send a message to the federal government that it wants no part of the health care law signed by President Barack Obama, even as other states led by Republicans are accepting the money.

Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the measure tells Washington, “if you want to do it, do it the way you want to do it and leave us out of the equation.”

S.4 letter.pdf

Pate and Hise named to health care committees

Seators Louis Pate of Wayne and Ralph Hise of Mitchell have been named co-chairs of the Senate Health Care Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Servces.

The committee will have jurisdiction over public health, health care, Medicaid, and other health issues.

"Rapidly growing health care costs are taking an ever-larger chunck of money out of North Carolinians' wallets and oru state budget," said Senate leader Phil Berger. "Sen Pate and Sen. Hise are the right leaders to promoe the free market solutions our health care system needs in order to create a thriving economy.''

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