UPDATED: McCRORY-COOPER SHOWDOWN: Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's Division of Motor Vehicles is refusing to issue immigrants in the deferred action program driver's licenses but Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper says they must.
The state Attorney General’s office said Thursday that young illegal immigrants participating in an Obama administration program blocking deportation for two years should be eligible for driving privileges in North Carolina, but by day’s end it wasn’t clear whether the DMV would issue them. But by late Thursday, more than five hours after the opinion was released, acting DMV Commissioner J. Eric Boyette said DMV officials had not formulated their response. “We have just received the ruling from the Attorney General’s office regarding driver’s licenses for people in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program today and we are in the process of reviewing it,” Boyette said by email.
***This is the Dome Morning Memo, a roundup of political news and analysis in North Carolina.
THE POLITICAL OPTICS:The politics of the showdown are dynamic. Cooper, a Democrat and potential governor candidate, is essentially the de facto head of the state Democratic Party and his advocacy on behalf of the Latino community is important to consider for person and party. McCrory, the newly minted governor, is bound by the law -- and his interpretation and whether he agrees with Cooper in the end is something to watch. It's safe to say that GOP activists will push against giving illegal immigrants any kind of government documentation. The story played on A1 of The News & Observer in Raleigh and News & Record in Greensboro.
THE POTENTIAL IMPACT:A spokeswoman said DMV had issued licenses to only 13 DACA participants, but immigration-rights advocates said they thought hundreds of licenses had been granted to deferred-action participants across the state.An estimated 180,000 young men and women in the state qualify for the DACA program, which postpones the deportation of people who entered the United States illegally when they were children. The DACA program grants two-year work permits for those who immigrated before they turned 16, are not yet older than 30, and have served in the military or are high school graduates or college students.
McCRORY'S SCHEDULE TODAY includes a visit to the state employee Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at 11:55 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Raleigh.
N.C.'s WEALTHY LAWMAKERS: Three of North Carolina’s newest members of Congress have another distinction – they’re the state’s richest. The three – Republicans Robert Pittenger of the 9th District, Mark Meadows of the 11th and George Holding of the 13th – have the highest average net incomes in the state’s U.S. House delegation, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics. Pittenger, a Charlotte real estate investor, tops the list of all North Carolina lawmakers with an average net worth of $33.6 million, according to the center. That ranks him 19th wealthiest in the 435-member House.
HOUSE GOP leader loses red-light lawsuit: A Wake County judge ruled Thursday that drivers who challenged Cary’s red-light camera program are not entitled to refunds of their $50 tickets. The verdict from Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway ended a class-action lawsuit filed in 2010 by Brian Ceccarelli, an Apex computer consultant. Ceccarelli argued that Isaac Newton’s laws of motion had made it impossible for him to obey North Carolina’s red-light law. After two years of depositions and four days of courtroom testimony steeped in the jargon of physics and traffic engineering, Ridgeway announced that Ceccarelli had failed to prove his case. His attorney, Republican state Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, the House Speaker Pro Tem.
FEDERAL JUDGE REJECTS MEDICARE FRAUD SETTLEMENT:WakeMed officials and federal prosecutors spent two years hammering out an $8 million proposal to settle a Medicare fraud investigation. A federal judge shredded the 116-page agreement in less than 30 minutes on Thursday. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ticked off a list of his grievances about the proposal, forcing federal prosecutors into the unusual position of defending the defendants. The agreement, Boyle said, appeared to be a “slap on the hand” for a “too big to fail” corporate giant. Only the day before, Boyle told the lawyers, he sentenced a woman to a year in prison in a $235,000 insurance fraud case.
PRAYER TO FIGHT OBAMACARE: The president of Hobby Lobby, which is fighting the government’s requirement to cover all contraceptives, asked Charlotte business owners to pray for his company Thursday.
BUDGET REQUESTS BEGIN: The UNC system on Thursday rolled out financial estimates for the cost of its proposed five-year strategic priorities, which include boosting North Carolina’s degree attainment rate and pushing research areas aimed toward the state’s economic development.
The price tag over a five-year period: nearly $266 million. That’s a 7.5 percent increase by the fifth year compared with this year’s budget.
*Editors note: Post updated to include missing words.