CHARLOTTE ISSUES STEAL McCRORY'S THUNDER: Gov. Pat McCrory triumphantly returned to his home city Monday for an economic development announcement -- but you wouldn't know it from the front page of The Charlotte Observer this morning. Two controversial local issues -- control of the airport and Carolina Panthers stadium upgrades -- stole the show and the front page. McCrory punted on the airport issues but said the effort to transfer control from the city to an independent authority needed more thought. And on stadium upgrades, McCrory said no to the use of state money. (More on those stories below.) Expect more of the same today, when McCrory holds a press conference with the Metro Mayors Coalition but will likely face myriad questions about voter ID and other legislation.
TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will convene at 2 p.m. but no votes are expected; the Senate opens at 2:30 p.m. to consider a handful of legislation on the calendar. The action is on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk where four bills await his signature -- including a bill to block Medicaid expansion and prohibit a state-based exchange. McCrory's press conference starts at 2:15 p.m.
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VOTER ID REVS PARTISANSHIP: Republican legislative leaders anticipate rolling out a voter ID measure this week. House Speaker Thom Tillis will address the hot-button issue in a press conference this morning. Meanwhile, Democrats are seeking to frame the debate in stark terms. From N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller: "When we talk about voter IDs, most folks don’t understand what that means. Voter ID equals voter disenfranchisement. It’s as plain as that. Like the horror villain you just can’t get rid of, the specter of Jim Crow returns and the nightmare on Jones Street continues."
FRACKING WASTE SHOWS DIVIDE: The politics of geography are trumping the partisanship when it comes to how to dispose of fracking waste. State Rep. Rick Catlin, the freshman GOP leader, is raising alarms about the waste being stored underground on the N.C. coast. More from the N&O: Forty years ago, when North Carolina banned using deep wells to permanently dump industrial waste, some thought the issue had been decided for good. Now state lawmakers who want to turn North Carolina into the nation’s next fracking hotspot are reopening the case for injecting brines and toxins deep underground.
This time, the proposal is shifting the fracking debate from the center of the state, where the energy exploration and economic benefits would occur, to tourism-dependent coastal communities where the disposal wells would have to be drilled. “That’s where it would be – no doubt about it,” said Rep. Rick Catlin, a Republican from Wilmington who is a hydrogeologist and environmental engineer. “It’s going to be very controversial.”
ANOTHER GUN POLL SHOWS N.C. SUPPORTS BACKGROUND CHECKS: A poll released Tuesday by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group advocating for tougher gun laws, found that 90 percent North Carolinians support background checks for all gun buyers. The Schoen firm conducted the poll for the group. North Carolina is one of 60 states and congressional districts polled.
THE QUOTE: “That 90 percent of North Carolina residents want every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check speaks volumes about the changing public mood on guns,” said pollster Doug Schoen. “This margin is unlike any I’ve seen on this issue, and it marks a real sea change. Voters want their elected officials to fight gun violence, and after Newtown, they’re demanding it.”
NOT MENTIONED: The press release from the advocacy group doesn't include this tidbit from the polling: North Carolinians are split on whether new gun laws are needed (47 percent) or current laws need to be enforced (49 percent).
OBAMACARE FIGHT REACHES COUNTY LEVEL: Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca helped lead the fight against major Obamacare provisions in the state legislature and now the effort seems to be seeping into his county back home. Henderson County Commissioners passed a resolution Monday asking the local congressional delegation to get them an exemption to a requirement regarding reinsurance fees. Find more here.
McCRORY: NO MONEY FOR PANTHERS: Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that no state money would be available for the Carolina Panthers, complicating the team’s bid for public money to help upgrade Bank of America Stadium. The team has asked the state for $62.5 million toward a planned $250 million stadium renovation. “We don’t have the money in the state to address that issue,” McCrory told the Observer Monday. “I have never been actually asked for the $62 million, nor do we have it.”
McCrory also said the team doesn’t qualify for an incentive grant from the state Commerce department. His comments came during an appearance at the Charlotte Chamber to announce a corporate headquarters relocation. The decision represents a setback for the Panthers. It comes four days after legislators effectively turned down a city of Charlotte plan that would have given the team $144 million.
McCRORY, TILLIS EXPRESS CAUTION ABOUT AIRPORT BILL:A bill that would transfer control of Charlotte’s airport from the city to an independent authority should “slow down,” Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday. But Charlotte’s former longtime mayor declined to offer his opinion of any transfer, instead characterizing it as a local dispute. “This seems to be a dispute between two factions in Charlotte – the city leaders and local business leaders,” he said. “What I’m recommending is some of this legislation slow down. The factions in Charlotte need to talk to each other and identify what the problem is and what’s the best long-term solution, like we used to do.”
House Speaker Thom Tillis, who appeared with McCrory at a Charlotte jobs announcement, also suggested the House will study the issue. “The Charlotte airport is an enormous success story,” he told reporters, “…which is why we have to go about this in a very methodical fashion, to make sure we don’t change for change’s sake but we change because we think it’s another strategic advantage for the airport, the airlines that use it, for the businesses that are customers.”
DO PINK LICENSES REPRESENT POLITICAL PROBLEM FOR McCRORY? RALEIGH — As national Republicans map out strategies to win over Hispanics, Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly are appealing to Gov. Pat McCrory to reach out to DREAMers on his home turf. Three weeks before the state is scheduled to begin issuing distinctive driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Democrats in the state legislature gathered with religious leaders in the N.C. Legislative Building to call for a ban on the different look.
BOARDS BILL GETS HOUSE APPROVAL: House Republicans on Monday approved its version of a plan that would fire more than 100 members of state regulatory boards and commissions, setting up a clash with Senate Republicans who wanted more people removed. Democrats characterized the stripping of regulatory boards as a partisan power grab, while Republicans called it an important reform.
WHY THERE ARE BABIES AND SCREAMING CHILDEN AT THE LEGISLATURE: RALEIGH — Three bills coming before the General Assembly this session would expand the ability of midwives to care for women during pregnancy and childbirth in North Carolina, where infant mortality and maternal death rates are some of the highest in the country. All three bills are expected to face opposition from the N.C. Medical Society, whose representatives have spoken out against previous moves to lessen restrictions on certified nurse midwives, who are required to have a supervisory agreement with a board-certified physician in order to practice under current law.