Under the Dome

Morning Memo: Voter ID week starts, Foxx gets FBI vetting

UPDATED: VOTER ID WEEK BEGINS: A highly partisan voter ID measure that could cost more than $3.7 million gets heard in an appropriations committee Tuesday but the outcome is set. The House plans to reserve Wednesday and Thursday for floor debate. The State Board of Elections suggested as many as 318,000 registered voters may not have driver's licenses.

FOXX CLOSE TO BECOMING OBAMA APPOINTEE?  The FBI has been backgrounding Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who’s reportedly a candidate to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation, sources say. The FBI typically backgrounds potential candidates for federal appointments, Jim Morrill reports from Charlotte. Foxx, who has said he won’t run for a third term this year, has been mentioned for the transportation post now held by Ray LaHood.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A full lineup of House and Senate committees meet Tuesday, starting with an appropriations committee meeting in which officials will deliver economic outlook numbers key to formulating the state budget. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m. The Senate will take another vote on the public notices bill -- after a rare close vote (26-23) to give it tentative approval Monday evening. Gov. Pat McCrory will host the N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and CommunityService  Awards Program at 2:30 p.m. at the mansion. It's his only public event today.

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to N&O politics editor Mary Cornatzer for publishing the memo last week.

BLOCKED ON MEDICAID EXPANSION, HOSPITALS GO ON THE OFFENSIVE: N.C. hospitals are launching an an advocacy campaign to focus on how cuts in Medicaid and Medicare spending may hurt their ability to provide quality coverage.

MORE POLL NUMBERS SOON: Public Policy Polling released their poll numbers Monday and the biggest curiousity from a political and sociological perspective is how Gov. Pat McCrory manages to hold such stronger approval numbers than Republicans running state government and the General Assembly, a GOP-dominated body. Look for more poll numbers -- the third set in recent weeks -- from the Civitas Institute, a group that favors Republican candidates and policies, later this week. Sen. Bob Rucho, a Charlotte Republican, will unveil some numbers Thursday* at the group's luncheon in Raleigh. (*Date corrected from previous post.)

SPEAKING OF CIVITAS: The latest Civitas Capitol Connections newspaper attempts to revive memo-gate with massive, bold headlines ("DECEIVE DEMONIZE DESTROY") in the April edition. "It's been just a few weeks since the Charlotte Observer ran a story about a leaked strategy memo ..." the story starts, going on to say Blueprint NC is the "memo's source." It's actually been nearly two months and America Votes, a different nonprofit, claimed authorship for designing tactics to take down Republicans. (Deeper into the story it mentioned America Votes.) It looks like Civitas may take the left's blame-everything-on-Art-Pope approach with the memo.

LAWMAKERS DODGE VOTE ON DRUG TESTING ELECTED OFFICIALS The state Senate approved a bill Monday to require public assistance recipients to take a drug test at their own expense. But lawmakers used parliamentary rules to reject an amendment to require members of the General Assemmbly, the governor and Council of State to do the same each year.

Chief bill sponsor Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, said he'd be willing to submit to a drug test so as long as he wouldn't have to pay for it if he passed the test. But he said amendment sponsor Sen. Gladys Robinson should file a separate bill.

OF NOTE: Two Democrats - Sens. Gene McLaurin of Richmond County and Michael Walters of Robeson County - joined all Republicans in supporting the measure, which now goes to the House for consideration. Full story.

SENATE VOTER ID BILL RESTRICTS FELONY VOTING:  People convicted of felonies who have paid their debts to society in North Carolina would no longer automatically get back the right to vote under the Senate’s version of the voter ID bill. The bill would require people convicted of felony crimes to wait five years upon the completion of their sentence, probation or parole before they could attempt to re-register to vote. First, though, they would have to get affidavits from two registered voters attesting to their “upstanding moral character” and get the unanimous approval of their local board of elections. The bill’s primary sponsor, E.S. “Buck” Newton of Wilson, said he considers the measure a compromise. Full story.

BIG GOV'T CONSERVATISM CONTINUES: Legislation that redraws the election boundaries for Wake County school board seats and changes when the elections are held passed the state Senate on Monday amid heated allegations of racial and political bias. Senate Bill 325 tosses out the current boundaries for all nine Wake school board seats and moves elections to even-numbered years. Supporters said the changes would allow the public to vote for more board members and increase turnout, but critics charged the changes were racially and politically motivated to help Republicans regain the majority on the school board. The current boundaries, however, were drawn up in 2011, when the school board had a Republican majority.

The legislation passed 33-17 with Republicans in support and Democrats voting no. It now moves to the House for consideration. “This bill is wrong on many levels,” said Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat. “This legislation is about a Republican majority on the General Assembly exerting itself in local affairs in order to exact partisan payback.” Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican, has repeatedly denied that the election changes are political. He said that moving the school board elections to the spring primaries in even-numbered years would increase “abysmal” turnout for school board contests now held in October in odd-numbered years. Full story.

McCRORY TRANSPORTATION PLAN AVOIDS BIG PROBLEM -- GAS TAXES: From Road Worrier Bruce Siceloff --  "We face a difficult problem,” Transportation Secretary Tony Tata told a Raleigh audience last week. He used a simple PowerPoint slide to illustrate his problem, but he never quite asked us to face it.

... Gas tax collections are falling about 2 percent a year, Tata explained, “even when factoring in population growth – because our vehicles are more fuel-efficient.” ... Then Tata veered away from any talk of an increase in North Carolina’s gas tax (higher here than in neighboring states) or the highway use tax (lower than our neighbors’) – or any other idea for generating more transportation money. Full story.

ONLINE NOTICES BILL ADVANCES: The state Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill allowing cities and counties to avoid paying for publication of official legal notices in newspapers by posting the information on government websites instead. Full story.

PANTHERS GET STADIUM DEAL: After seven months of negotiating, the Charlotte City Council voted 10-0 Monday to approve giving the Carolina Panthers $87.5 million to help renovate Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year “hard tether” to keep the team in Charlotte. The Panthers, who will contribute $37.5 million to the stadium project, plan to install escalators, new video and ribbon boards and make other improvements to the 17-year-old stadium. Full story.

DHHS SECRETARY WOS TOUTS MEDICAID OVERHAUL: Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos took to the road to campaign for Gov. Pat McCrory's Medicaid overhaul. From the Asheville Citizen-Times -- "Saying the current Medicaid system “is not sustainable,” the head of the state Department of Health and Human Services reviewed her vision for overhauling the system during a meeting with local health care providers Monday." Full story.

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