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Civitas deletes story questioning cronyism in McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute removed his story from the conservative-leaning think tank website last week that was critical about "cronyism" in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and hit hard at his chief-of-staff.

Francis De Luca's story (cached by Google here) criticized the Republican governor for failing to change "the culture of cronyism and insider dealing in Raleigh" by pointing to his appearance at the Sept. 5 inaugural Minority Enterprise Development celebration. De Luca wrote that the event featured two speakers of a group tied to the coalition behind the "Moral Monday" protests and was hosted by the N.C. Women and Business Enterprise Coordinators Network.

The story noted that network is a client of Capitol Access, a lobbying firm led by Yolanda Stith, the wife of McCrory's chief of staff, Thomas Stith. It went further to say that it "may be that Thursday was not the first time that Ms. Stith’s clients benefited from a cooperative governor," highlighting how her clients budget cuts received only small budget cuts in McCrory's proposed budget.

Civitas: Use that $10 mil on welfare recipients not teachers

Gov. Pat McCrory’s surprising announcement Wednesday that he would not execute a newly enacted law is drawing criticism from at least one conservative group.

The Civitas Institute began Tweeting and posted a clear message on its website: “Tell Governor McCrory to enforce the law.”

McCrory said he would not let his Department of Health and Human Services begin implementing a new law that allows drug testing of welfare applicants if social workers suspect there is a reason to. McCrory had vetoed that bill, but this week the General Assembly overrode him.

The governor said the General Assembly hadn’t come up with a way to pay for the drug testing. But there is $9 million in a budget reserve that can be used for pending legislation, and this program is estimated to cost $145,000 to get up and running.

The true costs won’t be known for about a year, after the testing details are worked out. But that has no impact on the current budget.

There's also the question of a governor's authority to ignore the constitution, which requires him to carry out the law.

Civitas suggests McCrory use the $10 million he “found” to pay for bonuses for teachers who earn masters degrees and instead use it to screen welfare recipients for drugs.

Berger: We expect the governor to uphold the Constitution

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has responded to Gov. Pat McCrory's defiance in the face of the two veto overrides the General Assembly handed the governor.

Berger cited the specific section of the state Constitution that requires the governor to execute the laws the legislature passes.

"All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the Constitution," Berger said. "We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law."

McCrory said he would not enforce the new law requiring drug testing of some welfare recipients until the legislature finds the money to pay for it. And he said there would be additional legal scrutiny of the new law making it easier to hire immigrant employees.

The governor's comments came soon after the Senate overrode McCrory's veto, and Berger told reporters he thought legislators and the governor had a "remarkable" record of cooperating in passing legislation into law this year.

McCrory pushes back against veto overrides

Updated with text of governor's statement.

The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before.

But Gov. Pat McCrory immediately pushed back, saying he will not carry out the new drug-testing of welfare recipients law, and he will consider challenging the new immigration law if it doesn’t withstand legal scrutiny.

McCory’s communications staff released a long written statement late Wednesday morning reiterating his earlier concerns about the two bills. McCrory said the executive branch would not take any action on House Bill 392, the drug-testing bill, until legislators find the money to pay for its implementation across the state. It would allow welfare recipients to be tested if social workers suspect they have been abusing drugs, and in some circumstances be required to get fingerprinted.

On House Bill 786, the immigration bill, McCrory said he will direct the executive branch “to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state.” The new law expands the period in which seasonal workers do not have to have their immigration status checked in the federal E-Verify system. The governor says it creates a loophole that industries besides agriculture will abuse.

Senate follows House in overriding both vetoes

The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before.

There was never any real question about what the Senate would do, with its firm Republican majority, even though Democrats who had supported the bills in July lined up in favor of sustaining the vetoes on Wednesday. They failed to pick up GOP support for the vetoes.

Democrats offered no debate, however, and so both overrides were accomplished in just six minutes.

Afterward, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger echoed House Speaker Thom Tillis’ remarks from Tuesday downplaying the political damage that Gov. Pat McCrory might have incurred from losing the veto fight.

Lt. Gov. Forest backs McCrory on immigration bill veto

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on Friday announced he supports Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of H.B. 786, the immigration bill.

Forest sent out a news release acknowledging the General Assembly can muster enough votes to override the veto when it convenes for a veto session on Tuesday. "But I respectfully ask that they do not do so," Forest said.

The lieutenant governor's opposition to the bill is the same as the governor's -- that it carves out a loophole that would allow employers other than in the agricultural industry to classify some workers as seasonal for a much longer time than is permitted under current law.

The loophole "will be exploited by some unscrupulous employers to reclassify non-agricultural workers as 'seasonal' for the purposes of evading the E-Verify law," Forest said.

Forest said the legislature could accept the veto and fix the loophole in a bill next year. He noted that as president of the Senate he can't vote unless there is a tie -- which will not be the case on this veto vote. But if he could he would vote to uphold the veto.

Morning Memo: Veto session scheduled; Rachel Maddow live from North Carolina

LAWMAKERS TO RETURN FOR VEOT SESSION: Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday called for a veto override session of the legislature for Sept. 3, to consider two bills dealing with the drug testing of welfare recipients and immigration. It was not immediately clear whether House Speaker Thom Tillis would ask the House to attempt to override the governor’s veto. But one of his lieutenants, Rep. Mike Hager said there were enough votes in the House to override the veto if Tillis wanted to move in that direction. Both bills passed with more than the three-fifths needed to override a veto.

“We got pretty good last year at overriding vetoes,” he added. “I think we got it down pat by now.” Last year, the Republican legislature voted to override three vetoes by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

RACHEL MADDOW PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON N.C. IN LIVE BROADCAST FROM ELIZABETH CITY: The MSNBC host broadcast from the docks at Groupers and put a focus on North Carolina’s new voting law. She also went on to discuss Art Pope’s role in the 2010 election See her entire segment here.

***More on the pending veto session and a N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

N.C. growers seek veto override

The state’s agricultural industry is pushing for an override of the governor’s veto of an immigration bill that would have made it easier to use seasonal laborers.

The N.C. Farm Bureau said Friday it is working with legislative leaders to persuade members of the General Assembly to reconvene in less than two weeks for override votes. They say the matter is urgent because without an override there will be a shortage of workers, which will lead to rotting crops and then less produce in grocery stores.

Challenging the governor’s veto has traction with agricultural interests and with House Speaker Thom Tillis, both of whom say they are concerned about more than that single bill. Both blame inaction in Washington for failing to address the nation’s immigration issues. Tillis is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and is already talking about immigration.

By law, Gov. Pat McCrory has to reconvene the legislature to consider veto overrides within 40 days of adjournment, which falls on Sept. 4. The General Assembly will have to meet then or inform the governor the session would be unnecessary, which requires they send him a petition signed by a majority of both chambers by Aug. 25. If they do that, the legislature could also wait until next year’s short session to take up the override.

Read the full story here.

Morning Memo: N.C. Dems host muted event; McCrory explores gambling deal

N.C. DEMS HOST MUTED CONFAB: The N.C. Democratic Party hosts its executive committee meeting Saturday in Greensboro but the fanfare from years past is missing. The evening Sanford Hunt Frye Dinner is merely a reception this year. The event is typically one of the party's larger fundraisers and Massachusettes Gov. Deval Patrick served as keynote speaker in 2012. This year, no headliner as a speaker and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan isn't even attending. It speaks to the party's still weakened status and lack of defining political leadership. A Democratic spokesman said the party opted for a reception because of the party's meeting is expected to last until 5 p.m. (But as anyone who has attended these in the past knows, they alwasy run long.) Former Gov. Jim Hunt and former state Supreme Court Justice Henry Frye, the event's namesakes, will address the party faithful.

McCRORY ADMINISTRATION EXPLORES MOVE TO EXPAND GAMBLING IN NORTH CAROLINA: Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is considering a potential deal to allow a South Carolina-based Indian tribe to open a casino just across the border in North Carolina in a move that is generating swift and fierce opposition from top Republican lawmakers. A new effort to expand gambling operations in the state could net North Carolina millions of dollars under a revenue-sharing agreement with the Catawba Indian Nation.

But it would carry significant political risk for McCrory, pitting the Republican governor against members of his own party.

***Read more on the potential casino deal below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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