Under the Dome

Morning Memo: Civitas protester database draws complaints

HOUSE OFFER MOVES ON CORPORATE TAX: From AP: The House's latest tax offer to the Senate would reduce the corporate income tax rate more quickly compared to the package the chamber approved two weeks ago and agrees to the Senate's position on the future of several sales tax exemptions, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The House offer would still retain the 2 percent local tax on groceries. The Senate wants to eliminate it. Both proposals would result in several hundred million fewer dollars for state tax coffers over the next two years, with the Senate proposal now sitting in a committee holding the higher price tag.

CIVITAS MORAL MONDAY PROJECT STIRS BLACKLIST COMPARISONS: The Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank the largely supports the Republican legislative agenda, posted the name, age, address and employer of all protesters arrested at the legislature during the Moral Monday events, along with other personal information in a new database online. Read more on the reaction below.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Read below for more about GOP lawmakers last minute addition to the state budget, the newest federal bench nominee for North Carolina and more.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Politics takes a backseat today. Gov. Pat McCrory and other state leaders will attend the funeral for former Gov. Jim Holshouser, the first Republican to hold the office in the 20th century. He will be laid to rest at 1 p.m. in Southern Pines. This morning, the N.C. chapter of the NAACP will outline its plans for the eighth Moral Monday protest at the statehouse in a news conference.

MORE ON CIVITAS DATABASE: The graphical breakdown of the protesters is an interesting look at the diversity in age, gender and occupation. But the personal information went too far for some protesters. Writing at the Huffington Post, Duke Law Prof. Jedediah Purdy compared it to the 1950s blacklists. The Institute of Southern Studies, whose written critically of the the GOP agenda, said Civitas is targeting the protesters. And Progress North Carolina, a group that has helped organize the protests, said in a statement that it was "troubling from a group whose supporters include far right extremists in favor of loose regulation of gun ownership, among other things."

WHO IS CIVITAS? The IndyWeek in Durham, an alternative weekly, turned the tables on Civitas -- which didn't apparently appreciate the scrutiny. "Well, turnabout is fair play: Here is a list of people on staff and on the board of the Civitas Institute and its sister organization, Civitas Action," the publication reported, linking to a document. "Coincidentally, when we were building this database this morning, all the names were listed on the Civitas Institute website. Now, only Francis X. De Luca, Civitas Institute president, is listed." Full IndyWeek piece here.

REPORT LOOKS AT LAWMAKERS SPECIAL BUDGET PROVISION: Sarah Ovaska at N.C. Policy Watch reports that state Rep. Justin Burr tucked a controversial provision into the state budget "to create a stand-alone judicial district in his home county by shifting resources away from Eastern North Carolina, he said it would help even out judge’s workloads."

Her report: “This will keep this budget-neutral and put resources where they are needed,” said Burr, a Republican bail bondsman from Stanly County, in the June 12th floor debate at the N.C. General Assembly. He neglected to mention two previous attempts he’d made to alter the Stanly County Courthouse, to break up what Burr referred to as a “courthouse mafia” in a 2012 letter he sent to a top judicial official.

The recent changes Burr sought were tacked on to the $20.6 billion state budget as an amendment last week and will make Stanly County, located in the state’s Piedmont area, the smallest judicial district in the state while also moving a district court judge with whom Burr has publicly tangled with into a neighboring courthouse. If backed by the Senate in upcoming budget negotiations, it would also move resources away from several northeastern North Carolina counties. Read the full story here.

ALEC TOUTS N.C. TAX REFORM EFFORTS: On the American Legislative Exchange Council's website, the much-maligned conservative group gave good reviews to the North Carolina lawmakers' efforts on taxes. "The 6th Edition of Rich States, Poor States (an ALEC publication) ranked North Carolina as 22nd overall. We have recalculated the results of the 6th Edition index to measure the effect of these proposals on North Carolina’s economic outlook and the results are staggering. Under the final phase-in of the House plan, North Carolina’s economic  outlook would improve to at least 5th best overall, and under the Senate plan, the state would advance to at least 2nd overall after final phase-in." House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Tim Moffitt are on the ALEC board of directors. More here.

OBAMA PICKS FIRST BLACK JUDGE FOR EASTERN DISTRICT: President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he plans to nominate prosecutor Jennifer Prescod May-Parker to fill the country’s longest-running judicial vacancy in the federal district courts – a 2,730-day opening in North Carolina’s Eastern District. May-Parker, a federal prosecutor in North Carolina’s Eastern District, would be the first African-American U.S. District Court judge in the 44-county region that spans from Raleigh to the coast. She would be one of only two sitting black federal judges in the state.

The judges, who receive lifetime terms, as stipulated by the U.S. Constitution, are appointed by the president after confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The names of potential nominees typically are recommended by senators, though House members sometimes pass along names, too. The Senate Judiciary Committee typically conducts confirmation hearings. The release from the White House offered no details on why Obama nominated May-Parker, nor did it say anything about the timing. The vacancy in the Eastern District of North Carolina has been open since Jan. 1, 2006, the day after federal District Court Judge Malcolm Jones Howard semi-retired. Full story.

N.C. MAYORS APPEAL TO MAYOR PAT ON GUNS: From the Winston-Salem Journal: "Fourteen mayors across the state, including Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, have sent a letter to North Carolina House and Senate leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory, opposing a provision in a bill that would eliminate background checks on handgun purchases. The mayors, who are members of the national coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, signed a letter that states that the provision would make it easier for felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to buy handguns. That scenario would “make it more difficult for our police officers to protect themselves and our community,” the letter says." Full story.

75 MPH IS TOO FAST FOR SOME LAWMAKERS: Worries about more deaths in high-speed crashes derailed a bill that would open the possibility of legal highway speeds of 75 mph in North Carolina. The bill was sent back to a House committee Thursday after a floor debate where talk of highway carnage in ugly wrecks overwhelmed supporters’ arguments about well-designed roads. “After 75 miles an hour, you’re not really driving a car, you’re aiming it,” said Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican. Full story.

UNC-CHAPEL HILL WILL AVOID SANCTIONS: Nearly 50 current students and more than 300 alumni who took fraudulent African studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill may be heading back to class.
That’s part of the university’s plan to “make whole” the academic degrees of 384 students who took the classes from 1997 to 2009 in what has become a reputation-smearing scandal at UNC-CH.

The plan was accepted Thursday by the university’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which decided to monitor UNC-CH for a year instead of imposing a sanction. The decision came as a big relief to university leaders who for months have been answering questions from a SACS review team. Full story.

AIRPORT BILL NOT GROUNDED: As the days tick down on this year’s session of the N.C. General Assembly, time is running out for backers of a bill to transfer control of Charlotte’s airport to a new, state-created authority. Once, the controversial bill seemed to be on a fast track through the legislature. Now, it remains grounded in the House Finance Committee. Rep. Bill Brawley, a main sponsor of the bill to remove the airport from city control, said the measure is still alive. Full story.

SENIORS EYE BUDGET, TAX PLANS WITH CONCERN: N.C. Health News writes that Social Security isn't the only fear for seniors in the final negotiations on the budget and taxes. "One of the biggest blows potentially comes to the Home and Community Care Block Grant, a federal grant that provides for many social services.," Rose Hoban writes. Read more here.

HOSPITAL CEO PAY UNDER REVIEW: U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Congress’ leading critic of nonprofit abuses, is raising questions about bonuses for executives of hospitals that benefit from a federal discount prescription drug program. One of the hospitals in question is Carolinas HealthCare System, whose CEO, Michael Tarwater, was awarded total 2012 compensation of $4.7 million, including bonuses of more than $2 million. Full story.

TRAIN SAFETY UNDER REVIEW: With the number of fatal train accidents in North Carolina spiking this year, the state hosted a rail safety summit Thursday with law enforcement officers, government officials and public safety advocates. The goal was simple: to find a way to cut down on train accidents and make railways safer for drivers and pedestrians. Full story.


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