TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Got your Red Bull handy? It promises to be a long day folks.
The House budget, having survived the Appropriations Committee mostly intact, goes to the Finance Committee this morning. The plan laid out by House Speaker Thom Tillis calls for the bill to be taken up on the House floor later today. Tillis told lawmakers there would be time for a lengthy debate and that — if the first vote comes late in the evening — he'll keep them there after midnight to have the final vote after midnight. The upside? They'll get the rest of Thursday off.
Welcome to Wednesday and Dome's Morning Memo.
SAFE PASSAGE: With the GOP in control, passage is a given but Democrats will be trying to save favorite programs and there are a few that Republicans like as well that are on the chopping block. Dome is still trying to figure out why any lawmaker wants to be seen as the one who voted to end the Child Fatality Task Force. Isn't that handing your opponent a gimme in the next election?
Amendments offered in committee Tuesday by both Democrats and Republicans failed to gain any traction, including ones to remove Rep. Paul Stam's school voucher program and to remove state funding for the anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
MORE COFFEE PLEASE The Senate has its own stamina-defying list of things to accomplish today. The session starts at 3 p.m. More than three dozen bills are on the calendar but they could push several forward. Among those to keep an eye on: concurrence on the Wake County School Districts bill and the bill fast-track fracking. The school districts bill should sail through but the House and Senate disagree substantially on the SB 76 with the Senate wanting to lift the moratorium on fracking and the House wanting to keep its promise to voters to go slow.
THE GREAT GUN SURPRISE The Senate is also expected to take up the bill that rewrites the state's fire arm laws. It passed out of committee Tuesday with a surprise amendment. Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican who represents parts of Johnston County, successfully introduced the measure that removes the need for a permit — and that pesky thing they do called a background check — before buying a pistol, and allows those who have a permit for concealed carry to tote a gun to all school properties. Licensed dealers will continue to check your name against the federal database before selling you a handgun. It's the way more than 30 states do it. Still, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper and various law enforcement groups are against the amendment. Full story.
WITNESS WEDNESDAY: The NAACP will hold a press conference at noon today in front of the General Assembly to honor "martyrs and others who served the civil, human and labor rights movements and dedicated their lives to gain many of the freedoms that exist today." Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers, the first field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP. Evers was murdered in his front yard. He had been registering African-Americans to vote and trying to get the city to hire some black police officers. Read Barry Saunders' column and excerpts of a news story about the event written by then New York Times reporter Claude Sitton. Sitton would later become editor of The N&O.
WHERE'S PAT?: Gov. Pat McCrory will be eating breakfast with legislators this morning at the executive mansion. He'll follow that at 9 a.m. by swearing in the new members of his Crime Commission. Among those named: Chris Swecker, a former assistant director at the FBI, will be the new chair; and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. Full story.
BALLGATE: The governor is also expected to get a little exercise today. Spokeswoman Kim Genardo said Tuesday that McCrory "will be back out tomorrow throwing the baseball perhaps with children who share his All-American passion." Genardo comment came as reporters questioned why the governor on Monday was playing baseball instead of meeting with children and advocates for public education who had delivered petitions with 16,000 names on them. The controversy erupted when Progress NC posted photos of the governor playing catch outside his office not long after the advocates, led by former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, had been told the governor was in a meeting. WTVD has the tick tock.
Dome was just surprised to learn from Genardo that the governor is follower of Michelle Obama.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tax codes are complicated things and changing them is even more complicated. Evidence: the number of plans that have been floated in the past month at the statehouse. But It now appears as if some version of HB 998, approved by the House Monday night, will move forward. On Tuesday, Senate President Phil Berger introduced the bill in the Finance Committee. It's a substitute but contains many provisions that were in the House bill and walks back from many of the proposals in the Senate's original tax plan that raised constituents' ire like a state sales tax on food and prescription drugs and expanding the sales tax to some 130 services. The bill will be debated in committee today. Full story.