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Morning Memo: Arrest top 300, legislative work heats up

ARRESTS NOW TOP 300: The 151 protesters arrested Monday brings the grand total this session to more than 300. But even the roughly 1,000 people who attended the rally outside the Legislative Building pale in comparison to tens of thousands who attended the Wisconsin recall protests. (Read more on the demonstrations in the memo below.)

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House Finance Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on its plan to tweak the state's tax system when it meets at 8:30 a.m. It is a partial overhaul compared to the Senate, but would still cut $1 billion in tax money over five years for future government services. A House transportation panel will revive a controversial bill to transfer control of the Charlotte airport to a regional authority. The Senate Commerce Committee will consider two beer bills while the judiciary committees have packed agendas. The House convenes at 2 p.m. and is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 325, which would change the election boundaries, election dates and composition of Wake school board seats. Expect some heated debate from Democrats before the bill is ultimately passed by Republicans and sent back to the Senate. In the Senate, lawmakers will consider adding making it unlawful (apparently it wasn't) to drink in EMS and police vehicles.

Gov. Pat McCrory and the Council of State will meet at 9 a.m. and then the governor will take a tour of Strata's solar energy farm in Willow Spring. The visit sends a statement the legislature considers a bill to end state mandates on renewable energy.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the ultimate source for North Carolina political news. Click below for a can't miss photo from the protests Monday. ***

BUDGET TIME: House Speaker Thom Tillis offered a schedule for the budget rollout this week and next. The subcommittees will work this week and the full budget is likely to debut Sunday evening. The full house will vote June 12 and 13. The speaker cautioned House members to expect long debates -- as long as six hours each day. The timeline gives the House and Senate about two weeks to get a deal and give it to the governor for his signature before the end of the fiscal year June 30. Tillis vowed to make sure the conference report was available for two days before a final House vote.

THE SCENE: Jennifer Ferrell stopped so her husband could take her picture. Then she waved goodbye to her 3-year-old twins and marched into the Legislative Building to get handcuffed. “I’m excited. I’m not nervous,” the 34-year-old Raleigh resident said as she walked in a line of demonstrators. “I’m passionate. I’m not crazy.”
For weeks now, Ferrell heard about protesters getting arrested at the statehouse to demonstrate against the Republican majority’s legislative agenda. And like many Monday, she felt compelled to add her voice to the chants and her wrists to the handcuffs. “I knew it was time to stop watching and do it myself,” she said.

BEST QUOTE: Rep. John Blust of Greensboro offers the Republican rebuttal: “I think of it like Carolina playing at Duke. ... “I’m not going to let the Cameron Crazies throw me off my game.” Full story.

BRYAN HOLLOWAY STICKS TO DENIALS: WRAL-TV is pressing the point with Rep. Bryan Holloway about his alleged authorship of a fashion blog. The evidence appears to point to Holloway as the writer of WASP 101 but he is sticking to his story: it's not me, he said. Full story.

HELP A SISTER OUT! North Carolina Health News, one of the best news sources for legislative coverage, is holding a fundraiser Thursday at Natty Greene's brewery in Raleigh. Politics. News. Beer. What more do you need? In all seriousness, the outfit founded by former NPR reporter Rose Hoban is a nonprofit that needs donor support, so join the crowd and enjoy good local beer, too.

The pitch: "NC Health News was created to fill a void left by local newspapers, TV and radio stations. As budgets have been cut, fewer reporters are on the health beat, and the people of NC are no longer getting the news they need to know. In case you're wondering how NC Health News is affecting the conversation in the state, we were there - and reported on it - when HHS Secretary Aldona Wos claimed the decision to forego Medicaid expansion had come from the Commissioner of Insurance. Other reporters were in the room, but no one else had the depth of knowledge and context to understand what had happened."

CREW FILMS AT N.C. SUPREME COURT: The cast and crew of Showtime’s “Homeland” filmed in downtown Raleigh on Monday, but all of the action took place inside the North Carolina Supreme Court building. That mostly kept the show’s star, Claire Danes, out of sight from gawkers. Full story.

COMPETITION IN THE N.C. INSURANCE MARKET: Don Taylor at Duke University takes a look at whether the federal health care exchanges will increase competition in health insurance options. Read it here.

YEAR AFTER RIBBON CUTTING, DOT RIPS OUT EV PLUGS: “History was made today,” the state Department of Transportation proclaimed on Jan. 11, 2012, when it installed charging stations for plug-in electric cars at four interstate highway rest stops in Johnston and Alamance counties. Fourteen months later, the chargers were history. DOT quietly pulled them out of the ground and trucked them to a warehouse. In their place today are four blue signs memorializing the end Feb. 28 of an “EV charging station pilot project.” The chargers were inspired by a civic zeal for jump-starting new things. They were doomed by a civic reluctance to give some things away for free. In this case, a tiny trickle of free electricity. Full story.

DIX BILL GOES TO CONFERENCE: The Senate voted Monday to reject a compromise Gov. Pat McCrory worked out with Raleigh over the Dorothea Dix property lease. Former Gov. Bev Perdue and Raleigh officials agreed last year on a long-term lease that would allow the city to turn the Dix property into a park. The Senate wants to revoke the lease. The compromise would allow the city and state another year to renegotiate an agreement. The new agreement could be a property lease or sale, and the city would keep some of the Dix land for state Department of Health and Human Services offices. Two Senate Democrats from Raleigh argued the Senate should go along with the compromise, but it was rejected in a 29-17 vote. Next, Senate and House negotiators will meet to try to work out an agreement that will pass both chambers.

HOUSE BACKS RED ROUTE APPEAL: The House voted 98-12 to repeal a 2011 law that bars the state Department of Transportation from considering its proposed Red Route for the 540 Outer Loop in southern Wake County, which would destroy homes, parks and businesses in Garner. The repeal was needed so DOT can study the Red Route to give environmental regulators a side-by-side comparison with the state’s preferred Orange Route, which would run through sensitive wetlands south of Garner. The Senate approved the Red Route measure last week. The repeal does not take effect until the Senate approves sweeping House legislation to eliminate the state Highway Trust Fund and replace it with new guidelines for distributing transportation construction funds.

OPPOSITION TO CHARTER BOARD GROWS: The N.C. Public Charter Schools Association board of advisers is adding its voice to the chorus opposing creation of a governing board for charter schools separate from the State Board of Education. State Board Chairman Bill Cobey, one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s appointees, says he doesn’t want a separate board and questioned its constitutionality. Senate Bill 337 passed the Senate largely along party lines, with Democrats opposed, and now sits in the House. Full story.


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NC should rewrite the NC Constitution

We should have a government that would rule based on how many of its supporters got arrested each week. If the liberals have the most arrests in one week they would get to write the laws for the next week. We could set up curbside courts to dispense justice and offer a drive-thru service.

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