BIG VOTE TODAY: North Carolina children as young as 5 may soon be able to receive their public school education online from for-profit companies. The State Board of Education plans to vote Thursday on a special application for virtual schools that want to run public charters and receive taxpayer money. Full story here.
INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES GET UNDERWAY: Thursday marks the beginning of the traditional inauguration festivities. Council of State officials will get feted at a reception at 6 p.m. at the Progress Energy Center. The event is hosted by the Junior League of Raleigh and five companies with business before the state will sponsor: Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, Cisco Systems, Duke Energy, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Hendrick Companies. It's just one of the few opportunities special interests will get to lobby the state's top officials this week.
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ROCK THE BALL: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the second inaugural event Thursday, a Rock the Ball concert aimed at the younger crowd, unlike his predecessor who didn't attend. His nephews and nieces will introduce him. Four more companies with lobbying presences in Raleigh will sponsor.
REPUBLICANS TAKE THE REINS: A bold four-column headline in the News & Observer hits the highlights from the first day of session and Republicans willingness to compromise on a photo voter ID measure.
From the story: Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis said they favor allowing voters to show other forms of identification that don’t include a photo, such as a registration card or other government documents. “I would still like a photo on it, but I would also be willing to accept other options,” McCrory said. “I’ll let the legislature work to develop those bills. I expect a voter ID bill to be passed in the very near future.” ...
The shift on a voter ID bill is a significant development on a major campaign promise Republicans made after Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a photo ID requirement in 2011. Tillis vowed to make it one of the first bills approved this legislative session, and McCrory pledged to sign it.
THE TALK OF TOWN: McCrory's outreach effort to the legislature nearly became overshadowed by politics of another sort. Senate leader Phil Berger continued his new fiery political talk in his remarks accepting the President Pro Tem position. It follows a pattern that emerged since the election and is turning heads in Raleigh. The way Berger, a typically even keeled guy, is stepping out only fuels speculation that he is trying to raise his profile and tap party activists for a potential U.S. Senate bid in 2014.
SPEAKING OF 2014:The GOP House speaker made his most extensive comments on a potential bid Wednesday, as first reported on Dome. Tillis is considering a run but won't know for sure until after the legislative session.
VOTER ID QUESITONS REMAIN: Republican leaders' willingness to compromise on a major campaign promise doesn't answer all the questions on a voter ID bill, critics warn. The question remains: What happens if a voter doesn't bring the identification required, whether they forgot it or lost it? Bob Hall at Democracy North Carolina wants the state to allow voters to sign an affidavit on the spot declaring they are who they are under penalty of criminal prosecution if they lie. Hall, who advocates for access to the polls and election reforms, said other states allow this and North Carolina needs to do the same if they require an ID to vote. He calls such a measure "redundant" because voters must present a government document verifying their identity to register in the first place.
TODAY'S BIG STORY UNDER THE RADAR: UNC system leaders are considering touching the third-rail in N.C. higher education: allowing more high-tuition out-of-staters to ease their budget woes. UNC-Chapel Hill tries this exactly a decade ago and lost the fight badly.
NEW SUNDAY MORNING N.C. POLITICAL SHOW IN THE WORKS: Democratic operative Jeanne Bonds, who managed state Rep. Bill Faison's third-place-in-the-Democratic-primary gubernatorial campaign in 2012, is launching a new political show on NBC 17 later this month for the 11:30 a.m. or noon slot after Meet the Press. Called "Live Wire Politics," the show intends to break the traditional talking-head routine and "bring voters in to the conversation", according to an advertising pitch for the show circulating on the Internet. Bonds said the promo for the show is old and it's unsure if her former front man will serve as her co-host. Faison is no longer in office, returning to his trial lawyer practice. In the video, Faison said he would take viewers "behind the political scene." "We start the conservation. You hold them accountable," he added. Bonds said the show will begin taping Jan. 30.
McCRORY's PR STRATEGY: In a column, Bonds looks at how McCrory's "state government is broken" line.
'MAYOR PAT' FINISHES HIS VICTORY LAP: The new governor spent three days this week touring the state holding town-hall-styled events, ending in Charlotte on Thursday in a jubilant homecoming. McCrory is getting gobs of gooshy press on the trip, with most local media focusing more on "a-governor-comes-to-town" rather than the (lack of) specifics in his tax plan and how he will bring jobs to the state. ("McCrory visits his political roots," the Charlotte Observer front-page headline read. Expect McCrory to travel outside the Raleigh beltline frequently if this continues.
A NEW McCRORY TWITTER PARODY picks up where @GovBevPerdue left off. The question is whether @PatMcCrony (get it: "crony") will pierce the #NCPOL conscientious as much as his predecessor's anonymous account. A decent first try from McCrony: "Had to ask Mr. Pope for the day off today. I've got to be at the Mansion from 1-8 PM to meet the cable guy."