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Morning Memo: House goes into OT, GOP pushes major bills in final moments

OVERTIME AT THE STATEHOUSE: What day is it again? The legislation continues its Friday session later this morning -- the one it started at 12:01 a.m. “Good morning, everybody,” House Speaker Thom Tillis said as he gavel in a new legislative day. The 9 a.m. session is one more than expected but House lawmakers didn’t want to stay past 1 a.m. to finish their work like the Senate, expecting lengthy debates. The House session is expected to last a couple hours. On the calendar: the “technical corrections” state budget bill that includes $2 million for the governor’s office to spend on innovative education programs -- a last-minute request from State Budget Director Art Pope’s office, budget writers said. Also: a final vote on a sweeping regulatory overhaul measure.

The big item left unfinished: Gov. Pat McCrory’s commerce bill. The fracking language added to the reorganization measure in conference doomed its chances in the house. (Special session, anyone?)

LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS WITH A FLURRY OF ACTION: Abortion. Voter ID. Massive changes to state regulations. Charlotte airport. It’s all headed to Gov. Pat McCrory. If you went to bed too soon, read it all below in the ***Dome Morning Memo.*** Along with Tillis campaign news.

McCRORY’S SCHEDULE: The governor is scheduled to attend a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. in Clayton and then sign a bill (SB159) at Cornelius Town Hall at 3:30 p.m.

BURR CALLS FEDERAL SHUTDOWN ‘DUMBEST IDEA’ EVER: A cadre of Republicans in Congress are calling for a government shutdown unless the federal health care law is nixed. But North Carolina’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Burr isn’t having it. He told the AP: "I think it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of," Burr said. "Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law."
He continued: “I think some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you better have a specific reason to do it that's achievable," he said. "Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government. At some point you're going to open the federal government back up, and Barack Obama's going to be president, and he won't have signed this illusion of the Affordable Care Act." Read more here. MORE BURR: See his interview with Fox and Friends on the student loan bill here.

TILLIS HITS ‘LIBERAL MEDIA’: In an email to campaign supporters Thursday, Thom Tillis touted his legislative accomplishments this session and blamed the media for his recent spate of bad press. “As in any legislative process, there were disagreements, but in the end conservatives were able to unite to achieve historic tax reform that lessens the tax burden on working families, a fiscally responsible balanced budget and numerous regulatory reductions to provide relief to small business owners.

“Members of the liberal media have made it clear that they don’t like our conservative agenda and they don’t like the fact that I want to take that conservative philosophy to Washington, D.C. They prefer a liberal Senator like Kay Hagan rather than any conservative who wants to stop the Obama agenda,” he wrote.

He specifically mentioned the stories about his campaigning during the legislative session but failed to note that he said he wouldn’t campaign “actively” during session. (He's probably aiming at The Charlotte Observer, which called for him to resign as speaker because he shouldn't campaign and run the House at the same time.)

TILLIS TO LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TOUR: But once session ends -- read starting next week -- he’s hitting the trail. He announced he would begin a tour that goes through the end of August and includes events in Hickory, Kinston, FAyetteville and Nags Head, as well as other roundtable business discussions. “In addition, and I know our media friends will love this, we will be in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. (It seems some liberals believe Kay Hagan is the only candidate entitled to raise money while working as a member of a legislative body),” Tillis wrote. More events are planned in September.

ELECTIONS BILL INCLUDES NEW RESTRICTIONS ON LOBBYISTS: A sweeping elections bill that was moving through the state Senate on Wednesday would make it more difficult for lobbyists to “bundle” contributions for state candidates.

The legislation would make it illegal for lobbyists to collect checks from one or multiple donors and deliver them to state candidates. Previously, lobbyists were prohibited only from collecting contributions from multiple donors and delivering them to candidates, which is known as bundling. The measure comes after a Charlotte law firm faced scrutiny for delivering contributions from the gaming industry in the past election. Read more here.

SPEAKER’S OFFICE: No ‘retaliation’ against Rep. Johnson: The House Appropriations Committee co-chairwoman voted against the state budget, sparking fears she would lose her title as a result, the N.C. Association of Educators reports. But Julie Garrison Lisella, a Tillis aide, told the teachers group that "speculation of 'retaliation' is nonsense and not based in reality." She said Speaker Tillis supports "every member's right to vote any way they choose,” NCAE reported.

HAGAN TO ADDRESS BLACK LEADERS: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will speak at the N.C. Black Elected Municipal Officials’ summer conference in Rocky Mount at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

RALEIGH BAR OWNER SAYS NO TO GUNS: Just inside the front door of The Player’s Retreat, Raleigh’s landmark 62-year-old bar, hangs a sign meant to discourage any Wild West saloon antics: “No Weapons,” it says, with a pistol inside the first O and a knife inside the second.
Owner Gus Gusler posted it there two years ago for sanity’s sake. “Any rational person has got to understand it’s not a cool thing to mix guns and booze,” he explained.
...Then on Tuesday, the General Assembly made matters tricky. Read more here.

ABORTION BILL CAPS DRAMATIC SESSION: Waiting until the last full day of the session, the state Senate on Thursday approved the abortion bill that it had been holding for nearly two weeks. The Senate voted 32-13 to approve a House-written version of the sweeping bill. It would impose stricter regulations on abortion clinics, require more contact between abortion clinic doctors and patients, and limit insurance coverage for the procedure. Read more here.

ONE ITEM LEFT ON THE TABLE: A last-minute legislative effort to speed up the state’s fracking timeline was derailed late Thursday after lawmakers couldn’t round up enough support for it in the House. Throughout the day Thursday, the House kept on putting off a vote on the bill, eventually shelving the legislation when it became obvious it was too divisive. Rep. Mike Hager, a Rutherfordton Republican who shepherds energy bills in the House, said Senate Bill 127 was too controversial to push through in the waning days of the legislative session. “We like for controversial legislation to go through the committee process,” Hager said. “I’m not going to hurry – we’ve been accused of that before.” Read more here.

VOTER ID BILL ADVANCES: The legislature on Thursday passed a package of strict voting measures that may invite a federal lawsuit. The bill’s supporters said the measure will restore the integrity of elections and can withstand any challenge under federal law or the state constitution. But critics say the legislation is ripe for a legal challenge.

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL MAY SCRUTINIZE N.C.’S BILL: A justice department spokesman declined to speculate on whether U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder would go after North Carolina’s voter ID law, which would be the strictest in the country. “I’ve never seen a package of what I would call suppressive voting measures like this,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine. “I look at this package, and I can’t for the life of me see how it’s justified on voter ID grounds.”

Speaking to the National Urban League on Thursday in Philadelphia, Holder said his department has filed a federal court challenge to force Texas to obtain “pre-clearance” before implementing future voting changes. He made it clear his office wouldn’t stop there. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan … to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected,” Holder said. “My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found.”

Holder has said that nearly two dozen new voting laws passed last year in a dozen states significantly impeded voters from casting ballots.

GOP DISMISSES CONCERNS: Senate Republicans said the legislation can withstand legal challenges. “I am confident that the bill as drafted complies with all court precedents that currently exist,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews, said the legislation was fashioned after other states’ voter ID laws, including Indiana’s, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2008. Read more here.

HOW MUCH DOES ALL THIS LEGISLATING COST? Another day, another $50,000. That’s what lawmakers’ decision to stay another day in Raleigh costs the state. Wesley Taylor, the General Assembly’s financial services controller, expects the current session will end up costing about $30 million.

Lawmakers had hoped to be out by July – House Speaker Thom Tillis had even suggested May at one point earlier this year. But wrangling over taxes, the budget, voter ID, abortion and other issues has kept them there long past their due date.

Taxpayers have noticed. Taylor has been fielding calls since the end of June. “Everybody has to ask: ‘How much does it cost the state?’ ” Taylor said. He tells them $50,000 a day, which pays for salaries, coffee, air conditioning, legislator’s per diem and more. Read more here.

CHARLOTTE AIRPORT FIASCO COMPLICATES FINAL DAYS: In another roller-coaster day of legislative maneuvering, the General Assembly on Thursday pushed forward with a new bill that shifts control of Charlotte’s airport to a 13-member commission, while city officials vowed to block the effort. The legislation is poised to restore longtime Aviation Director Jerry Orr to his position, only a week after he was ousted by the city. Read more here.

ROUNDUP: More bills, more action, find it all here.

PHOTOS: Get a peek at the legislative action in this photo gallery.

REPUBLICAN READING STANDARDS CREATE VIGOROUS DISCUSSION:It’s hard to argue with the notion that students should be able to read on grade level by the end of third grade. But a new state law saying low scores on reading exams can hold children back from promotion to fourth grade drew vigorous discussion Thursday from top officials in four Charlotte-area school districts. Read more here.

GEORGE HOLDING INTRODUCES FIRST BILL: U.S. Rep. George Holding introduced his first piece of legislation in Congress this week – a bill that would require federal agencies to publish more information about rules they are planning.

The Raleigh Republican calls the bill the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act. It would require federal agencies once a month to report on all rules they plan to propose or finalize in the coming year. The federal government would be required to post this information on the Internet each month. The bill would “help business owners know what’s coming so they can determine what effect the regulations will have on them,” Holding said. It also increases transparency by requiring federal agencies to detail the effects of regulations, he said.

Holding has been a member of Congress since January and was one of the last of 84 freshmen to introduce legislation. Read more here.

CONGRATULATIONS, IT’S A GIRL: Sen. Andrew Brock’s wife gave birth early Friday morning to a seven-pound, five ounce baby girl, Stella Faith Brock. The 1:37 a.m. delivery came just about the time the Senate adjourned for the year.


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Many links don't work

Would like to read more! Please fix the links.

Link isn't working for me

The *read more here* link at the end of the entry on the cost of the Legislature doesn't work. When clicked, get a page not found message. Thanks!

the current session will end up costing about $30 million

The state is also paying $27,000,000 to the Escheats Fund to pay down the debt owed by the Global Transpark.

$30 million here and $27 million there.

Which of these expenditures benefited the people of this state the most?

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