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20 states give public pensions to private lobbyists including North Carolina

At least 20 states offer public pensions to non-government employees, a recent review by the Associated Press found, and North Carolina is among them.

As The News & Observer reported in 2011, the N.C. League of Municipalities, the N.C. Association of County Commissioners and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians police officers are among those that get government pensions under special provisions approved by state lawmakers.

Thom Tillis skips session to attend U.S. Senate fundraisers in Washington

UPDATED: As the N.C. House debated a sweeping tax bill and a contentious gun resolution Wednesday, Speaker Thom Tillis spent the day raising money in Washington for his U.S. Senate bid.

The Cornelius Republican attended at fundraiser at 11 a.m., the same time session started, hosted by two lobbyists at the offices of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, according to an invite. The meet-and-greet invite included information about donations up to the maximum limit of $2,600.

Morning Memo: Gift ban repeal dead, Hahn investigation seeks motive

TILLIS SAYS LOBBYIST GIFT BAN WILL REMAIN INTACT: House Speaker Thom Tillis took to Twitter this week to declare Republican Robert Brawley's bill to lift the ban on lobbyists giving lawmakers gifts is dead. "Benny, does the fact that the bill is dead give you any idea?" @thomtillis wrote. The speaker's office confirmed the 10:10 p.m. Tuesday tweet was legit. Tillis addressed the response to Benjamin Ray, an operative at the N.C. Democratic Party pushing Tillis on the issue and tying it to his office's controversial past with lobbyists and the fact the bill came from one of his committee chairman.

MOTIVE FOR JAMIE HAHN'S STABBING TURNS TO CAMPAIGN MONEY: As the Triangle mourned slain political strategist Jamie Hahn on Wednesday, attention turned to whether the man who police say stabbed her had made questionable campaign finance reports while working for Hahn’s firm. More on the story below.

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Gov. McCrory holds steady; GOP legislature, legislation not popular in new poll

Gov. Pat McCrory remains popular in North Carolina but his Republican colleagues in state government and the legislature are underwater.

The governor -- recently named one of the most conservative in the nation -- received 49 percent job approval with 36 percent disapproving. Another 15 percent remain undecided, according to the latest survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

With his numbers holding steady for the past few months, McCrory is faring much better than Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, whose neared negative territory about this point into her term.

Is the NRA a new state agency?

Is the National Rifle Association a new state agency?

A reference sheet recently sent to all state Senate offices listing contact information for all state agency legislative lobbyists includes the gun lobby group.

The NRA lobbyists -- Anthony Roulettte and Christopher Cox -- are listed between the National Guard of North Carolina and the Board of Occupational Therapy on the alphabetical sheet that includes the legislative liaisons for the governor's office, state auditor and other major state agencies. The NRA is the only nongovernmental special interest group on the list.

The sheet, sent from the legislative assistant director in February to all offices and obtained by Dome, is designed to serve as a quick lookup for all aides to senators.

Morning Memo: The poor dream too; legislature returns to town

COLUMNIST -- CAN'T BAN POOR FROM THE LOTTERY: You got any dreams? We want them, too. That’s what comedian Richard Pryor swears his wife’s attorney asked him when they showed up in divorce court. That’s also what State Rep. Paul Stam is saying to welfare recipients in North Carolina by proposing a measure that would prevent them from playing the lottery.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- a digest of the political headlines and upcoming news in North Carolina. Click below to read more. ***

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.

Gov. McCrory rocks out on drums at inaugural event

Gov. Pat McCrory banged out a drum solo on stage at the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh on Thursday night, kicking off the inauguration festivities.

The mostly young crowd, some in suits, some in flannel, clapped along and a few started singing Queen's "We Will Rock You" to McCrory's bass line. "There we go," McCrory said.

The Republican governor, wearing a sport coat and no tie, seemed at ease at the event. When he left the stage, he listened to the music from in front of the stage, shunning the roped-off VIP section saved for him on the club's upper level.

Lawyer winners & losers in the post-election haze

Now that the dust has settled from Tuesday’s election, what’s it all mean for the legal community? N.C. Lawyers Weekly has come up with a list of winners and losers. Here’s a sampling:

Morning Roundup: Kissell, Hudson spar about Medicare in AARP debate

In the latest faceoff for one of the most competitive congressional seats in the country, the 8th District candidates sparred Monday over Medicare, Social Security and other issues crucial to senior citizens.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell said he opposes any changes to those two programs, while Republican Richard Hudson said he’d favor offering retirement “choices” to those now his age (40) and younger. Full debate story here.

More political headlines here:

--South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley had a simple message Monday for undecided North Carolina women: Jobs and the economy should trump social issues when it comes to deciding the next president.

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