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Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst strategist John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

IS THE 2014 GOP SENATE FIELD SET? The news that Virginia Foxx is out and Phil Berger is leaning that direction leaves Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon and (very likely) Mark Harris as the Republican candidates to challenge Democrat Kay Hagan. It’s unlikely any other candidate enters the race, pundits say.

Tillis is the most prominent name and Brannon and Harris would split the vote of ardent conservatives. "If it comes down to Tillis and Hagan," analyst John Davis said, "it’s going to be a tough challenge for Tillis. Gender is going to play a big factor in her favor."

Davis said Democratic women challenging Republican men have won eight out of 10 statewide races in North Carolina. Hagan beat GOP incumbent Elizabeth Dole, in a Democratic year, to win the seat in 2008, despite Dole out-raising Hagan by roughly $10 million, Davis said.

NORTH CAROLINA'S PRESIDENTIAL DELEGATES AS IMPORTANT AS GUAM? -- Penalties loom for elections bill moving primary date: From Zeke Miller at Time magazine: "Under the Republican National Committee rules adopted at the convention last year, North Carolina would be subject to the “super penalty” — an increasing punishment designed after Florida jumped ahead of Nevada in 2012 that would reduce the state’s delegates to the national convention to nine from 55 in 2012. As a result of the adoption of the penalty, Florida moved its primary for 2016 to the first Tuesday in March — the first date that would avoid the penalty. The Democratic Party rules are more fluid, but in 2008 stripped Florida and Michigan of all their delegates for violating the sanctioned calendar, becoming another front in the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Party restored 50 percent of the delegates by the convention.

"This penalty might not stop North Carolina, which is seeking its share of the national spotlight and a portion of the tens of millions of dollars spent on early state campaign organizations and television ads, but it would remove the near-term incentive for a candidate to campaign in the state. Under the penalty, North Carolina would be reduced to as many delegates to the Republican convention as Guam.

"...RNC members at the party’s meeting in Boston last week reaffirmed their support for the primary calendar after the passage of the North Carolina law. The party’s rules committee formed a subcommittee on the primary process to explore additional calendar reforms, including taking control of the debate process, but is expected to toughen the penalties on rule-breakers, if anything. Democrats still haven’t met to discuss their 2016 rules, with that expected first in early 2014, but according to several DNC members, they see eye-to-eye with Republicans about punishing rule-breakers. Read more here.

GARY PEARCE ON HHS SECRETARY ALDONA WOS: From his blog -- "Last week, “a bodyguard prevented a News & Observer reporter from asking (DHHS Secretary Aldona) Wos any questions” after a speech. This week, when questions arose about DHHS paying $85,000-plus salaries to young campaign aides to Governor McCrory, “the governor’s spokeswoman, Kim Genardo, referred questions” to Wos. “Wos could not be reached.”

"Hold the mayo. Go back. A “bodyguard?” Prevented a reporter from asking questions? Is this a State Trooper, paid by the taxpayers? Or a private bodyguard? Blocking a public official from answering questions? What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?" Read more here.

McCRORY FACING FAMILIAR QUESTIONS: For Morning Memo readers, this interview from WLOS-TV in Asheville with Gov. Pat McCrory won’t break any news. But it’s the same tough questions the governor has faced elsewhere, and indicates which stories are permeating the average TV viewer’s (read: voter’s) mind. Interview here.

ROY COOPER ON RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR: From News 14’s Tim Boynum’s interview with the state’s Democratic attorney general: "Yes, I asked him about running for governor. He is talking to people about running for governor in 2016. While he says an announcement is not imminent and we are a long way off from the election, a decision may come sooner than you think.

"I will certainly be making decisions soon.," Cooper said. "I believe that we need to work now to change things and move North Carolina forward and to put us back on the right road of making sure we fund public education like we should. It’s the economic engine that moves this state forward." Read more here.

TODAY IN POLITICS:

Organizing for Action (OFA) North Carolina will hold an event at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Dr. King Memorial Gardens on Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh to push for gun control legislation.

Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a private meeting at 2 p.m. at hte mansion with the N.C. Justice Academy’s graduating class from the management development program. The program’s motto: It’s “not just a training course. It is an experience!”

DLCC TARGETS N.C. PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s Executive Director Michael Sargeant tees off on North Carolina in a piece published on Huffington Post: "The GOP is at it again -- trying to give damaging policy ideas a pretty name in hopes that Americans will not notice that the ideas themselves are dangerous," he starts. Read it here.

ELLMERS TO JOIN IMMIGRATION FORUM: The organization Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform Network will hold an event Thursday that features U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Dunn Republican. The group is pushing the immigration plan in the U.S. House. The event will take place at noon at Sagebrush Restaurant in Dunn.

RANDOM: From Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht’s blog -- "Seated at my table during the Leadership Dinner were Congressional member Renee Elmers and Wake County Chairman Joe Bryan. Ms. Elmers talked a great deal about the interactions she has had with the Tea Party folks and how she is at odds with them on several issues. She also talked about several key issues including the federal budget, federal deficit, and the potential government shutdown. She clearly stated that the shutdown would be a huge mistake. It was a joy listening to her talk and hearing her opinions. And I especially enjoyed listening to her and Chairman Bryan talk about the future of the Republican Party." (Spotted by staff writer Andy Kenney)

ICYMI: KINNAIRD APPEARS ON RACHEL MADDOW: Check out the interview here.

HEALTH INSURANCE RISES, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO SPUR OBAMACARE CRITICS: American workers and their employers saw another rise in health insurance premiums this year, as the total cost of employer-provided health benefits ticked up 4 percent for family plans and 5 percent for individual plans, according to a closely watched national survey. The 2013 increases are lower than in many previous years, undercutting claims by critics of President Barack Obama’s health care law that the 2010 legislation is dramatically driving up costs. Read more here.

ANOTHER NATIONAL HEADLINE: The Fiscal Times covers North Carolina's shift. Read it here.

BIG TEST FOR N.C. SCHOOLS COMPUTER SYSTEM: Computer glitches probably top this year’s list of back-to-school jitters for North Carolina educators. Most of the state’s 1.5 million public school students return to school Monday. And that provides the first massive test of PowerSchool, a data system that controls everything from bus routes to attendance records to grades.

The statewide rollout is a first for Pearson School Systems, a New York-based technology company that created PowerSchool. While it’s been successful around the nation, PowerSchool has never been used for a district as large as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools or the Wake County Public School System, said Philip Price, technology chief for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Read more here.

N.C. LAW STRUCK DOWN: The North Carolina law banning registered sex offenders from commercial social networking sites like Facebook that children can use is unconstitutional because it's vague and violates free speech, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge panel ruled unanimously in vacating the additional felony conviction of a registered offender in Durham County for accessing a site after authorities say he had created a profile page on Facebook. His attorney argued the 2008 law wasn't narrowly written to serve a legitimate government interest and could prohibit routine Internet activity, such as a performing a Google search. "When the General Assembly passed the law, it was entirely feel-good and designed to make people feel secure,' said Glenn Gerding, a Chapel Hill lawyer representing Lester Gerard Packingham in court. But legislators, Gerding added, "didn't even consider how this might be implemented."

The "Protect Children From Sexual Predators Act" made it unlawful among other things for a registered sex offender to access a website where the person knows minors are permitted to become members or have personal Web pages. The measure is part of a host of restrictions to protect minors from sexual predators, but the judges say this one is too broad. Read more here.

GOP CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS AFTER USING RACIAL SLUR: The Republican mayoral candidate in Winston-Salem pulled out of the race Tuesday after local party leaders withdrew their support when he admitted using a racial slur and derogatory term in describing a black county elections worker. Read more here.

APPEALS COURT RULES CONVICTED KILLER SHOULD GO FREE: A 64-year-old Fayetteville man convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison in the 1970s won support from the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday in his attempt to get credit for good conduct behind bars and early release.

A three-judge panel for the state appeals court agreed unanimously to uphold a Cumberland County Superior Court judge’s decision that a life sentence for inmate Bobby E. Bowden did not necessarily mean he would be imprisoned until his death. But the state attorney general announced hours later that he would seek review by the state Supreme Court, halting the immediate release of Bowden. Read more here.

HAGAN FORMS A COMMITTEE ... : GARNER — With signs that North Carolina’s manufacturing sector is on the mend, Sen. Kay Hagan announced Tuesday the formation of a state manufacturing committee to deliver advice and policy ideas to her office.

Hagan made the announcement at the Pergo laminated flooring plant in Garner after touring the facility with future members of the committee, Pergo executives, Garner town leaders and representatives from Wake Tech, including Wake Tech President Stephen Scott. “The best way to grow manufacturing or any of our key sectors is by talking to people on the ground,” said Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro. Read more here.

STATE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY ALLOWS CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT TO GO FORWARD -- GOP lawmakers pushed for less scrutiny: The state agency charged with protecting North Carolina’s waters let plans for a controversial water-supply reservoir west of Charlotte advance with no scrutiny. Cleveland County Water, which serves rural residents, had labored since 2000 to win approval for the impoundment. Environmental rules make reservoirs hard to build because they drown streams, wetlands and rare species.

In an unprecedented move, the N.C. Division of Water Quality made the path easier. The division simply waived a state permit that says the project won’t hurt water quality. The decision last month came after Republican-led legislators ordered regulators to collaborate with communities in building reservoirs. Federal authorities disagree on the Cleveland County reservoir’s impact. Read more here.


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State Environmental Agency...

What DENR waived was the one state approval that makes sure the project meets state water quality standards. And they did it because it would be an unnecessary cost to the applicant? Wow.

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