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Morning Memo: House goes into OT, GOP pushes major bills in final moments

OVERTIME AT THE STATEHOUSE: What day is it again? The legislation continues its Friday session later this morning -- the one it started at 12:01 a.m. “Good morning, everybody,” House Speaker Thom Tillis said as he gavel in a new legislative day. The 9 a.m. session is one more than expected but House lawmakers didn’t want to stay past 1 a.m. to finish their work like the Senate, expecting lengthy debates. The House session is expected to last a couple hours. On the calendar: the “technical corrections” state budget bill that includes $2 million for the governor’s office to spend on innovative education programs -- a last-minute request from State Budget Director Art Pope’s office, budget writers said. Also: a final vote on a sweeping regulatory overhaul measure.

The big item left unfinished: Gov. Pat McCrory’s commerce bill. The fracking language added to the reorganization measure in conference doomed its chances in the house. (Special session, anyone?)

LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS WITH A FLURRY OF ACTION: Abortion. Voter ID. Massive changes to state regulations. Charlotte airport. It’s all headed to Gov. Pat McCrory. If you went to bed too soon, read it all below in the ***Dome Morning Memo.*** Along with Tillis campaign news.

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: 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. ***

Hagan ranks in Senate's ideological middle; Ellmers among most conservative

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan ranks in the ideological middle, according to the latest rankings from the National Journal. The Democrat, who faces re-election in 2014, ranks the 48th most liberal of the 100 senators, or 52 most conservative, depending on how you look at it.

Her Republican counterpart U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is the 23rd most conservative member in the chamber, the nonpartisan national political magazine found. National Journal ranked the lawmakers on 116 votes that showed differences in ideological viewpoint in the 112th Congress.

Among Democrats in the House, Congressman David Price is the most liberal at No. 32, followed by Mel Watt (45), former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller (83), G.K. Butterfield (121). On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick was the 32nd most conservative, followed by Reps. Renee Ellmers (43), Virginia Foxx (55), Patrick McHenry (62), Howard Coble (153) and Walter Jones (242).

Sen. Burr voices support for Helms name on post office

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is voicing his support for naming the historic Century Post Office in downtown Raleigh after the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers recently introduced legislation to name it the Jesse Helms Federal Building and United States Courthouse but encountered opposition from some who called it "morally wrong to reward intolerance," a reference to the senator's record.

"Jesse Helms was a transformative figure in our state’s history who placed service to his constituents above all other priorities in his public life," Burr said in a statement issued by his office Thursday. "Whether they agreed with him on political issues or not, North Carolinians had a dedicated advocate in Washington in Jesse Helms, and this bill will help to commemorate his legacy and his service to our state."

Burr submits Lejeune health bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has resubmitted legislation aiming to give health care to Marine veterans and their family members who suffered from historic water contamination at Marines Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Burr’s bill, the “Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act,” would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to both veterans and their family members for illnesses associated with exposure to the poisoned drinking water. It is his first bill in the 112th Congress. Burr also submitted the bill in the last Congress.

Price top in N.C. earmarks

U.S. Rep. David Price was North Carolina's top solo earmarker.

According to a database compiled by the nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Chapel Hill Democrat was singlehandedly responsible for $24.3 million in earmarks in this year's spending bills.

He was followed by Reps. Heath Shuler ($14.9 million), Bob Etheridge ($11.2 million), Robin Hayes ($8.6 million) and Virginia Foxx ($7.6 million).

At the bottom of the list, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who was responsible for just $856,000 in solo earmarks.

The list shift slightly if you include earmarks requested along with other members of Congress. On that list, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is top with $147.8 million, followed by Sen. Richard Burr ($116.2 million), Price ($90.1 million), Hayes ($43.8 million) and Rep. Mike McIntyre ($32.6 million).

Butterfield still comes in last, with $8.2 million.

Click below for North Carolina earmarks or here for the complete spreadsheet.



Document(s):
NC-2008-Earmarks.xls

The almanac's take on our politicians

The new 2008 Almanac of American Politics — a sort of political bible for Beltway junkies — landed on Dome’s desk last week smelling of fresh ink. The book is crammed with trivia.

The 1,800-page tome, published by National Journal, has details on voting records, election opponents and inside baseball on every member of Congress, Barb Barrett reports.

A few bits from the Triangle delegation:

* On Sen. Elizabeth Dole: "During the 2005-06 cycle Dole spent relatively little time in North Carolina and ended the year with only $245,000 cash on hand." The entry goes on to list all the Democrats uninterested in taking her on: Gov. Mike Easley, Mary Easley, Erskine Bowles, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, Treasure Richard Moore, Attorney General Roy Cooper and Rep. Brad Miller.

More after the jump.

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