STUDENTS TO PROTEST ART POPE LECTURE: UNC-Chapel Hill students are plannning a "teach out" demonstration Tuesday outside a campus building where Art Pope, the governor's state budget director is a guest lecturer. Pope will speak to Faculty Chairwoman Jan Boxhill's 12:30 p.m. philosophy course, according to The Daily Tar Heel. Pope is a major donor to the university but also to ttea party groups and others that aim to elect Republican candidates. Students are upset about the proposed cuts to the university in tthe budget Pope drafted. Interestingly, Gov. Pat McCrory earlier this year questioned the use of state money for liberal arts courses such as gender students and philosophy.
TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House and Senate lawmakers will consider a corporate income tax cut and school safety measure Tuesday with major legislation begins making progress as the legislalture nears crunch time. The House Education Committee will meet at 10 a.m. and the Senate Finance Committee will meet at 1 p.m. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m. The House is still waiting to vote on a measure to background check many receiptients of public assitance and prohibit some from getting federal aid. Two major groups will hold rallies at the legislature to push back against the Republican majority.
McCrory hosted a breakfast this morning with advocates for the state's historically black universities and colleges -- the groups most fearing any potential study of consolidation of UNC system campuses. Later in the day, the governor will meet with the Legislative Black Caucus, a group that has been very critical of his agenda.
***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more North Carolina politics below.***
McCRORY WANTS TO OVERHAUL STATE COMMERCE DEPT: Gov. Pat McCrory proposed a major restructuring of the state’s Department of Commerce on Monday that calls for all of the agency’s economic development functions to be shifted to a new nonprofit corporation. It would basically gut the state’s Commerce Department, shifting much of the work done there to a new public-private partnership tasked with negotiating corporate economic incentives packages, boosting the state’s imports and exports and promoting travel and tourism. Most other details of the restructuring have yet to be worked out, including what would happen to the roughly 500 employees who now work for Commerce.
TRANSPARENCY QUESTIONS: Robert Orr, a Raleigh lawyer who has been a longtime critic of the state’s economic incentives deals, questioned how transparent the new agency would be.
Would the partnership and its employees fall under the state’s open records laws? Would those doing business with the partnership have to disclose their lobbying connections? Would there be accountability in following up to see whether incentives recipients are doing what is required? "There are a host of issues around economic development and transparency,” Orr said. Full story.
REP. MURRY TO LEAD COMMERCE EFFORT: The plan would need to be approved by the legislature. Rep. Tom Murry of Morrisville, who has agreed to co-sponsor the bill, said legislation outlining the changes will be introduced in the General Assembly this week. Murry, who has been in correspondence with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on the issue for the past two years, introduced a similar bill in 2011.
SEN. CLODFELTER CONSIDERING RUN FOR MAYOR: North Carolina Sen. Dan Clodfelter said Monday he is considering a run for Charlotte mayor this fall. The eight-term Democratic state senator had said last month he was considering a return to the Charlotte city council, where he served from 1987 to 1993. With Mayor Anthony Foxx’s announcement last week that he would not seek re-election, Clodfelter said he’s been approached by a number of people about a mayoral bid. Full story.
SPEAKERS BLAST LAWMAKERS, MANY OF WHOM SKIP MEETING: More than 20 speakers voiced their opposition Monday to several Republican-sponsored bills under consideration at the legislature, including efforts to revoke Raleigh’s lease of the Dorothea Dix campus and a measure reshaping school board elections. The Wake County legislative delegation’s meeting attracted less than half the crowd of a hearing two weeks ago. Phil Poe of Raleigh pointed to the General Assembly’s 23 percent approval rating in a recent poll. “I think these numbers are sad and discouraging,” Poe said. “It seems too many of our legislators are totally indifferent to these polling numbers, when in fact they’re a measurement of your performance. ... You can do better – you must do better.”
Many of those legislators weren’t there to hear the criticism. Nearly half of Wake’s 16-member delegation – Democrats and Republicans – was absent for part or all of the meeting. The missing lawmakers included Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross of Raleigh and Republican Reps. Marilyn Avila of Raleigh and Paul Stam of Apex. Avila co-sponsored the bill to revoke Raleigh’s lease on the Dorothea Dix property. Full story.
STATE AUDIT REVEALS DEEP PROBLEMS IN PRINCEVILLE: The troubles plaguing the historic town of Princeville escalated Monday as the State Bureau of Investigation began examining thousands of dollars in questionable spending revealed in a state audit. Full story.
HELMS AND THATCHER:Jesse Helms and Maggie Thatcher formed their own mutual admiration society. Helms, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, once called her “the greatest prime minister in Great Britain since Winston Churchill.” The former British prime minister, for her part, put Helms up there with the late President Ronald Reagan and herself when it came to upholding a principled, conservative approach to government. Full story.
CHARTER SCHOOL APPEALS PENDING:An advisory council will wait until Tuesday to decide what to do with more than two dozen charter school applications that were rejected for the 2014-15 school year. Charter school supporters have been lobbying for a second chance for 27 of 69 applicants that were deemed incomplete by the state Office of Charter Schools because of missing paperwork. Members of the Public Charter School Advisory Council debated Monday what further steps should be taken but said they wanted 24 hours to think over the issue.
SEN. BERGER GETS INVOLVED:The situation has drawn the attention of state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who council member Alan Hawkes said had asked him to do what he can to hear out the rejected charter applicants. Berger's son, Phil Berger Jr., recently joined the board of a leading charter school advocacy group and is connected to a charter schoool seeking approval. Full story.
HELMET LAW IGNORES SCIENCE: From columnist Bruce Siceloff --
A few bikers pop up around the General Assembly every other year at springtime, suntanned and persistent, to lobby for their freedom. Their cause has been a perennial loser for a decade. But this time their prospects are looking up. That might seem remarkable when you consider that the value of helmet laws is proven in a mountain of research from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies. ... But members of the House Transportation Committee did not discuss public health research when they considered North Carolina’s helmet law at two meetings last month. They mostly talked up the individual-freedom rationale: Let motorcyclists decide for themselves whether to be safe or sorry. “An age-specific helmet law is just unenforceable,” said Rob Foss, a senior researcher with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill. “You’re really repealing the law when you do that.”
Ornitz recognizes the libertarian appeal of the push to roll back the helmet law. “That sounds nice, an ‘Easy Rider’ kind of thing,” Ornitz said. “But the reality is not pretty. Sitting in an intensive care unit with your loved one and not knowing if they’re going to live is enough stress – and then you realize it’s going to be forever. “I think there will be a lot of heartache for folks if they let this go through.” Full story.