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Radio spot targets bill rolling back Hatteras protections

Environmentalists are worried about a bill coming up for a committee vote in Congress this week that would roll back coastal protections against beach driving.

They’ve just launched a radio ad campaign in North Carolina to defeat Senate Bill 486, introduced by North Carolina Senators Kay Hagen and Richard Burr.

The bill would scrap the Cape Hatteras management policy for managing off-road vehicle use, which has been in place since 2012 following extensive public input. The bill calls for return to an interim policy, which environmental groups say devastated seat turtle and shorebird populations.

Defenders of Wildlife has put out the radio spot.

“There is no need for this legislation; Cape Hatteras saw record numbers of tourists last year, (North Carolina Department of Commerce), sea turtle nest counts were at an all-time high and piping plover and other shorebirds are rebounding (National Park Service) since the plan was put in place,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, in a news release. “Their efforts will turn this great national park back into a parking lot.”

Morning Memo: Obama visits N.C., tax deal brokered

OBAMA VISIT: President Barack Obama is expected to unveil a plan to connect nearly every U.S. classroom to high-speed Internet while he’s in Mooresville on Thursday. The plan would expand broadband and wireless access to 99 percent of the country’s schools over the next five years, the White House said. It would use money already budgeted and would not require authorization or approval by Congress. The goal is to boost graduation rates and turn out students more prepared for tech-related careers. Full story here.

Gov. Pat McCrory won't be joining the president at his visit, according to his public schedule.

TAX DEAL BROKERED: For the second straight day Wednesday, House Republicans feuded among themselves on a major tax cut measure, stalling a top legislative priority. But 10 hours after a revolt in a morning committee meeting, House GOP lawmakers emerged from a lengthy closed-door meeting Wednesday evening to say they had reached a consensus to remove language from the tax bill aimed at helping the housing industry. The move puts the House tax plan back roughly in its original form. Full story.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for North Carolina political intel. More news and analysis below. Send tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Common Core fight hits North Carolina, tax bill divides GOP

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House tax plan returns for an unscheduled stop in another committee Wednesday morning. Look for lawmakers to possibly strip a provision added the day before by Finance Committee Chairwoman Julia Howard to remove the cap on home-related tax deductions. Continuing the fast timeline, bill sponsor David Lewis said the measure could hit the floor this week. The bill to fast-track fracking will get a vote in a House committee at 10 a.m. The full House will take a final vote to repeal the Racial Justice Act and consider a bill to redraw the Wake County school district boundaries. The Senate will work through a lengthy calendar that includes two beer bills and a measure requiring biodegradable plastic bottles to carry certain wording on their labels.

LT. GOV LAUNCHES COMMON CORE FIGHT: On Tuesday, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest posted a nearly four-minute video on YouTube, titled “My Concerns with Common Core.” In it, he said he has serious qualms about the state’s “rush to implement” the K-12 standard. Common Core was rolled out in North Carolina’s classrooms last fall. Forest vowed a critical review starting Wednesday during orientation for new members of the State Board of Education, suggesting “perhaps a fresh set of eyes will give us reason to pause, and make sure our state looks, before we leap into the Common Core.” 

***Additional details on Common Core, Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate bid and much more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Burr building war chest of his leadership PAC

Sen. Richard Burr will hold a fund raiser this weekend at the Outer Banks as he builds up the war chest of his leadership PAC for the 2014 election cycle.

Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, will hold a fund raiser for the Next Century Fund on Friday and Saturday, charging $3,000 for political action committees and $2,000 for individuals.

It is one of series of Next Century Fund money raisers that Burr is holding. He held one in Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines in April, one in at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville Virginia earlier this month. He has an event planned in June at the Homestead in Hot Springs Virginia in June and one in Primland Resort in Meadows of Dam, Virginia in September.

Morning Memo: A new Dix deal, fallout from Brawley letter

A NEW DIX DEAL: Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will hold a joint news conference this morning to discuss the Dorothea Dix lease. A state House committee approved a new version of a bill Wednesday that would revoke Raleigh’s disputed lease on the Dorothea Dix property near downtown. The compromise bill comes with a sweetener that has the support of city leaders and the governor’s office.

But the question is whether the Senate will go along. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Spruce Pine Republican, said the Senate remains committed to its version of the bill. "As we've clearly seen, the lease was entered into by the state illegally, it is substantially different than what even the Council of State had approved, and it's in the bad interest of the state," he said. "If they need to start, we'll start from scratch. But you can't begin on a foundation that's that weak."

GOP LAWMAKERS REACT TO BRAWLEY LETTER: “If you have a disagreement, that's not how one handles it and I'm saddened," said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican. "We don't need distractions." Other Republican lawmakers refused to talk about it. "I don't have anything to say," said House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and top GOP leader, said she was surprised by the letter read on the floor. "I thought it was an inappropriate use of the floor by Rep. Brawley." If anything, Samuelson said, "I think it will help bring us together more because it doesn't represent the majority of the caucus."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- congrats to the NCGA team on the big win against South Carolina last night. More North Carolina political news below. ***

Foxx gets smooth ride at confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON - Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. Transportation Secretary, has so far had an easy confirmation hearing before the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Wednesday afternoon, The Charlotte Observer's Steve Harrison reports.

Foxx has discussed issues such as the furloughing of air-traffic controllers, tolling interstates and replacing old bridges. Senators from both parties have so far praised Foxx.

Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said the hearing was a “most amazing confirmation process.” He added he has heard nothing but “kind comments.”

The mayor was introduced by N.C. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican Senator Richard Burr.

The woes of the campaign trail: Bermuda and the golf course

Congressman G. K. Butterfield will be holding a political fund raiser along the coast – well, actually, way off the coast, in Bermuda.

Butterfield, the Wilson Democrat, plans a fund raiser for Friday through Sunday at the Fairmount Southampton in Bermuda. Cost is $2,500.

Back at the USA, Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, held a fund raiser Monday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club at Gainesville Virginia for his Next Century Fund political committee. The cost for the outing ranged from $1,000 to $2,500.

Hat tip: The Sunlight Foundation.

Morning Memo: Fracking board under fire, Letterman takes shot at 'Dick' Burr

ENERGY COMPANY THWARTS FRACKING RULE: After more than six months of congenial meetings, the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission was set to approve its first fracking rule Friday, perhaps the most important of all the safety rules the commission will write to protect the public and safeguard the environment. The standard spells out which chemicals fracking operators have to publicly disclose when drilling natural gas wells in North Carolina.

But commissioners learned Thursday the proposal they had approved in committee in March is on ice. The problem: Fracking giant Halliburton has told North Carolina’s environmental regulators the rule goes too far. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working to get the rule changed.

The developments raise questions about the independence and integrity of the Mining & Energy Commission, a panel created by the state legislature last year to create safety rules for shale gas exploration. Fracking refers to fracturing shale rock formations using high-pressure water and chemicals to release the natural gas trapped inside. Full story.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more news and analysis from the North Carolina political arena below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Richard Burr congratulates Anthony Foxx

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr congratulated Anthony Foxx on becoming the latest Obama cabinet appointee.

The president announced Foxx, the Democratic Charlotte mayor, as transportation secretary Monday afternoon.

“I am pleased to see the president look to North Carolina to fill this important cabinet position, and I congratulate Mayor Foxx on this honor," Burr said in a statement. "I look forward to introducing Mayor Foxx to my colleagues and working with him as his nomination moves through the Senate. I believe he will ably serve North Carolina and our nation as the next Secretary of Transportation.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan echoed the sentiment: "This is great news for North Carolina and our country, and I look forward to a swift confirmation for Anthony," she said in a statement.

Burr holds golfing fund raiser

Sen. Richard Burr is hosting a fund raiser Friday and Saturday at the Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club for his political committee, the Next Century Fund.

Burr, a Republican, has used the fund to contribute to other congressional candidates to try to help elect a GOP majority. The event costs $1,500 per person or $2,500 for a political action committee.

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