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Morning Memo: GOP flirts with Charlotte for 2016 convention

GOP FLIRTS WITH CHARLOTTE: Could Charlotte do for Republicans in 2016 what it did for Democrats in 2012? The Republican National Committee’s meeting in Charlotte this week has fueled speculation that the GOP might return for its national convention in four years. “It’s always a possibility,” GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday at the Westin hotel. “North Carolina was good to us. And it’s a red state – all the more reason to look at Charlotte.”

AFP TOUTS GOP REIGN IN NORTH CAROLINA: Tim Phillis, the national president of Americans for Prosperity, writes in a Politico op-ed that North Carolina is a state where the GOP plans to make a difference. It starts: "In Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 11, a new free-market Republican governor celebrated his gubernatorial win at the inaugural balls. The occasion was historic for North Carolina: the first time since Reconstruction that a conservative GOP governor will be joined by free-market GOP state legislative majorities in both state legislative chambers." Read full piece here.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo a digest of important N.C. political news. Click below for more.***

ART POPE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST INCOME TAX ELIMINATION: “To go there from where we are now, I think, is very difficult to do and has lot of impracticalities.” Pope – the wealthy owner of a chain of retail stores – emphasized that his statements reflected his personal opinion, and not the governor’s stance. But as a leading Republican and conservative political donor who helped elect the GOP legislative majority, his statements represent the strongest opposition so far to the tentative proposals being presented by Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, and Sen. Bob Rucho, a Charlotte Republican and finance committee chairman.

DISTANCING MCCRORY FROM LEGISLATIVE PLAN: Pope made a point to separate the governor from the lawmakers’ ideas. “Gov. McCrory has never called for eliminating the corporate income tax,” Pope said. “He has said that if others make those proposals he will consider that along with other proposals.”

NOT EXACTLY: On the campaign trail, however, McCrory did express interest in entirely eliminating income taxes, particularly the corporate income tax, through gradual reductions, citing the same reasons as lawmakers.

STATE TREASURER CONCERNED ABOUT TAX IDEAS: Speaking at the same UNC-Chapel Hill journalism forum, State Treasurer Janet Cowell said she supports taxing services and reductions in the state’s income tax rates – but not their complete elimination. The Democrat said such a proposal may potentially hurt the state’s top-notch, AAA credit rating because income taxes account for more than half the state’s annual spending, or roughly $11 billion. “The rating agencies, in general, look for a diversified system,” she said. “So you don’t have a huge amount of volatility or over reliance on just one type of revenue.”

FACING RE-ELECTION, OBAMA SHIFT SQUEEZES KAY HAGAN: Acute analysis "from the Washington Post -- "Liberals were jazzed by President Obama’s inaugural address Monday. But in the Senate are a half-dozen Democrats who were likely not so thrilled. Democrats in 2014 will defend seven Senate seats in states that went Republican in the 2012 presidential election. And a left-leaning agenda could put many of them in a tough spot, balancing the will of the party with the will of their constituents."

TODAY'S NEWSMAKERS: Attorney General Roy Cooper and Wake County DA Colon Willoughby outline legislative proposals for fighting public corruption in a 10:30 a.m. press conference Thursday. Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory will speak at 2 p.m.to the N.C. Municipalities conference at the Raleigh Convention Center..

NEW VISION FOR UNC SYSTEM CREATES UNREST: Faculty groups say the proposed five-year strategy for the UNC system has a top-down approach that could wrest curriculum out of faculty hands and impose flawed standardized tests onto university students. ... It’s unclear how the UNC report will be received by the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory. The proposed budget request is for a 7.6 percent increase for the UNC system by the fifth year, compared to this year’s budget. The spending increase would be $74 million in 2013-14. By the fifth year, the new spending would build to $267 million over this year’s budget, or roughly $200 million, taking into account UNC savings through efficiency measures.

GOP LAWMAKER ADVOCATES REMAKING DEMOCRATIC SCHOOL BOARD: A top Republican state lawmaker says he supports both changing the way the Wake County school board is elected and taking away the body’s power to buy land and own schools. State Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, House Speaker pro tempore, said Wednesday that he expects the GOP-led legislature to pass new laws that would allow the Wake County Board of Commissioners to take over ownership of schools from the Board of Education and to require that some Wake school board seats be elected on a countywide basis. Stam also said he’s expecting the legislative session that gets under way next week to produce a bill that would allow all counties to help charter schools pay for building their facilities.

NEW N.C. CONGRESMAN QUEISTONS CLINTON'S BENGHAZI TESTIMONY: Front page in the Times-News -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony Wednesday about last year's deadly assault on a Libyan diplomatic post failed to win over at least one House member: 11th District Congressman Mark Meadows. In a phone interview less than an hour after Clinton left Capitol Hill, Meadows said the secretary's testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee left many troubling questions unanswered. Among them: “Who knew what when, and why didn't they make different decisions?” Meadows said the review process was supposed to be independent, but “it's obvious they were having ongoing discussions with her... It really doesn't address the systemic problem we have right now, which is that the protection didn't go far enough.”

WRAL POLL FINDS SUPPORT FOR GUN-BUYER BACKGROUND CHECKS: North Carolinians disagree on many of the proposals to regulate gun ownership that surfaced after recent mass shootings, but a WRAL News poll found widespread consensus that all gun buyers should have to pass a criminal background check, Mark Binker reports. More than 90 percent of those surveyed said they favored universal background checks for gun buyers, and that support was consistent across categories such as age, gender or whether someone owned a gun or not. The poll of 500 North Carolina residents was conducted by Survey USA between Jan. 9 and Jan. 12.


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