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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.***

Morning Memo: Adjournment arrives but much remains undone

ADJOURNMENT DAY : The end is near. State lawmakers intend to conclude the legislative session tonight -- likely after midnight Friday to allow for final readings on controversial bills, House and Senate leaders said. But much remains on the to-do list: final votes on voter ID, the fracking bill, a commerce department reorganization, the closely watched abortion legislation and final votes on a handful more key measures.

The last-minute scramble begins at 10 a.m. when the House and Senate Rules committees meet to discuss last-minute legislation Republican leaders want to push through. The House and Senate will convene at 11 a.m. and stay on the floor most the day with intermittent recesses to shuffle legislation between chambers. Gov. Pat McCrory canceled a trip to a conference in Aspen, Colo., to remain in Raleigh for the final day of the session.

***Miss the action? Get all the North Carolina political news and analysis below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: McCrory to announce Medicaid overhaul; big day at statehouse

McCRORY TO ANNOUNCE MEDICAID SYSTEM OVERHAUL: Gov. Pat McCrory rejected a Medicaid expansion earlier this year saying the system was broken and Wednesday morning he is expected to describe how he plans to fix it. The Republican has talked frequently about the rising costs of the healthcare system for select low-income and disabled residents and issued a video preview Tuesday saying he would create a "partnership" that will help keep costs low. Check Dome later today for more details from the 10 a.m. press conference.

***It's a jam-packed day in North Carolina politics. Get the full scoop on all the big stories from the Dome Morning Memo below. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Legislative preview: Meet your delegation, look at the issues, meet key players

On Wednesday, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh to begin the long session, which is expected to last about five months. In today's paper we take a comprehensive look at the people and the issues that will be making the news, and the laws, in the months ahead. From lawmakers to lobbyists -- and lawmakers turned lobbyists -- plus key staffers behind the scenes, and an army of competing interests, the statehouse on Jones Street is about to begin whistling like a kettle.

Report notes North Carolina's longtime ties to ALEC

Dome meant to note this earlier, but it’s been a busy year: One local liberal group, Progress N.C., put out a report some months ago on the American Legislative Exchange Council that will likely have some bearing on the upcoming session.

ALEC was a significant part of Republican lawmakers’ agenda in Raleigh, with a “boot camp” on “model legislation,” a spring summit meeting of the organization’s various task forces – each specializes in specific issues – was held in Charlotte, and in the summer of 2011, a large contingent of Republican members of the House attended the national conference in New Orleans, where House Speaker Thom Tillis was named one of the legislators of the year.

Meanwhile, a drumbeat by liberal groups outed ALEC’s behind-the-scenes work to bring the corporate agenda to the nation’s legislators to pass pro-business laws. Despite the bad P.R., North Carolina legislators aren’t likely to severe their longstanding ties to ALEC, and the group will likely continue to be a player in the new session that begins in January.

Morning Roundup: School grades change and Michelle Obama revs supporters

This is the last year of a much-maligned system that made parents angry, caused teachers to complain that they had to “teach to the test,” and kept principals up nights worried about showing improvement. The ABCs are gone after Thursday. In its place is a new measuring stick that emphasizes national standards and students’ readiness for college and work. Read more about the changes here.

More political news:

--Michelle Obama attended a campaign rally in Greensboro, previewing her role at the Democratic National Convention, and then attended a fundraiser in Raleigh in which she defended her husband's administration.

--Even in the wake of last month’s Colorado shooting rampage and a gunman’s spree last year that nearly killed former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, don’t expect Democrats to arrive in Charlotte armed with renewed calls for tougher gun laws. The issue is too risky.

Recent Senate bills

Recent bills filed in the Senate of note:

S.B. 235: Personal Protection in Restaurants, Sen. Andrew Brock

S.B. 236: Notarized Consent for Minor's Abortion, Sen. Brock

S.B. 237: Voting Materials in English, Sen. Brock

S.B. 259: Interscholastic Sports Open to All Students, Sen. Jim Jacumin

S.B. 262: Expunctions/Purge Online Databases, Sen. Phil Berger

Recent House bills

Some interesting recent House bills:

H.B. 223: No High School Graduation Project Required, Reps. Jimmy Love and Angela Bryant

H.B. 232: Scholarship Loan for Rural Social Workers, Reps. Larry Bell, Rick Glazier, Marvin Lucas, Marian McLawhorn

H.B. 257: No Seizure of Lawful Firearms in Emergency, Reps. George Cleveland, Mark Hilton, Tim Moore and Laura Wiley

Berger gives session low grades

Phil BergerSenate Minority Leader Phil Berger gave the session low grades.

The Eden Republican said he was still frustrated by the Democratic majority's use of the rules to have its way. His grades:

Legislative Process: D-. Berger said that bills were "pretty much decided" before they reached the Senate floor, and the 2008 budget was "written behind closed doors."

"It's pretty much the same way it's been in other years," he said.

The Budget: D or F-. Berger said the budget did not take into account the troubled economy or financial problems with the State Health Plan. On the other hand, he was happy to see that less money was transferred from the Highway Trust Fund to the general fund.

On the plus side, he praised a pilot project for incentive pay at some school systems as well as the final wording of a bill that would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, which he helped write

"I think we ended up with language that respected the Second Amendment and addressed problems evident from the Virginia Tech shootings," he said.  

What didn't pass

A number of bills never made it past the legislature.

The bills would have:

Prohibited smoking in public spaces such as restaurants and workplaces.

Rolled back a law requiring most schools to open on or after Aug. 25.

Called for a public vote on banning same-sex marriage in the constitution.

Prohibited corporal punishment in schools.

Called for a public vote on amending the state constitution to bar governments from taking property for economic development purposes.

A full list after the jump.

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