THIS WEEK IN POLITICS: The action at the legislature will resume full-speed this week with more intra-party fighting among the GOP on a bill to sweep clean state boards. An amended version is before the House for final approval and then goes to a reluctant Senate, setting up negotiations in conference committee. House Speaker Thom Tillis will hold a news conference Tuesday to outline plans for a voter ID bill, despite mixed messages that such a measure would not require a photo ID. Gov. Pat McCrory will make an economic development announcement Monday in Charlotte and Tuesday will host metropolitan mayors at the governor's mansion, a group close to his heart as the former Charlotte mayor. On Friday, the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission meets amid legislative changes to speed the fracking timetable in North Carolina.
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McCRORY VISITS WITH BILLY GRAHAM: McCrory made a point to visit with Rev. Billy Graham at his home in Montreat during a swing through western North Carolina — just as so many Republicans politicians, including Mitt Romney last year — have done. In a prepared statement that accompanied a photo from the governor's office, McCrory said: “He is such an inspiration and has been for generations. At the end of our meeting we prayed together: for me, my family, but most importantly for the state.”
PERSONNEL FILE: The governor recently appointed Cheryl McQueary of Greensboro to the State Board of Transportation. She will replace Michael Fox on the board. Her previous experience, according to the governor's office, includes serving as a deputy administrator for the Research and Innovative Technology Agency at the U.S. Department of Transportation, an appointment made by President George W. Bush.
TOP POLITICAL HEADLINES:
HANDGUNS KILL MORE THAN ASSAULT RIFLES IN NORTH CAROLINA:In the wake of gun massacres in Colorado and Connecticut, President Barack Obama has urged Congress to pass a series of gun control laws that include background checks for all gun sales and a ban on the assault-style weapons used in the shootings. But those measures in particular may have little effect on day-to-day gun crime in North Carolina, which overwhelmingly involves handguns, many sold and traded beyond even the beefed-up system of background checks envisioned in Washington. For the decade ending in 2011, handguns accounted for more than 81 percent of all firearm homicides in North Carolina in which the type of weapon was known, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
'TRICKY DICK' TACTICS IN LEAKED STRATEGY MEMO: From N&O columnist Barry Saunders — "Tricky Dick would be proud. No, not about seeing his political dirty tricks turned against a fellow Republican, but he’d at least admire the spirit of America Votes, the group whose leader last week copped to drawing up a strategy to “eviscerate” the gubernatorial reign of Pat McCrory. Nixon, the 37th president who left office in disgrace, would’ve turned 100 in January, and hundreds of his admirers had a fancy shindig in Washington to honor his legacy. Jessica Laurenz, North Carolina director of America Votes, paid tribute to the old Trickster, too, when she admitted that her group was responsible for the memo that laid out plans to hinder McCrory’s and Republicans’ effectiveness."
GOP TARGETS STATE LOTTERY: From AP — The North Carolina Education Lottery sold its first tickets in March 2006, but seven years later it appears the lottery's luck with state government could be wearing thin. Members of the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory are interested in scaling back or altering how the lottery advertises. Doing so could hurt annual sales that reached $1.6 billion last fiscal year and helped send $457 million to the state for education initiatives — records that have a chance to be broken again this summer. In contrast to Govs. Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue — both Democrats who supported the lottery — McCrory called out the lottery in his recent State of the State address.
ASHEVILLE AIRPORT DEAL A SIGNAL OF WHAT'S AHEAD FOR CHARLOTTE: From the Citizen-Times — "Legislation designed to streamline operation of Asheville Regional Airport is, so far, having the opposite effect.
As a result of the N.C. General Assembly’s approval of a bill last summer to make the airport an independent agency, five different local governments are being asked to adopt special zoning for property around the airport to satisfy federal regulators."
GUN DEBATE STIRS GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM: Some of the most fervent voices in the debate over gun control are coming from neighborhood-based clusters of people who are impatient with the traditional organizations. In North Carolina, pro gun-rights advocates have traditionally been active and visible. Grass Roots North Carolina says it has more than 60,000 people on its alert list, and can mobilize effective campaigns aimed at state lawmakers. It has helped push through legislation that loosened gun restrictions in the past two years. Less visible has been the state’s main advocacy group for gun control, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, which had a more sympathetic ear when Democrats were in power. But in January, the loose-knit collection based in Cary launched a campaign of its own. The full story here.
GOP GATHERS TO TALK STRATEGY: At a time when Republicans in North Carolina are buoyed by their political control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in a century, several hundred conservatives gathered in Raleigh this weekend to plot their next moves. The two-day annual Conservative Leadership Conference, organized by the Civitas Institute, brought participants to the capital city from across the state on Friday and Saturday.