VETO OVERRIDE FALL OUT
Pat McCrory is truly a hapless politician. After eight months in office he can’t get much right. This week’s veto override session is just the latest example. McCrory wanted the theatrics of a couple of vetoes to prove that he’s tough and independent. Instead, the legislature’s quick and easy override of both vetoes showed him to be weak and insignificant. It was a pitiful show.
Dome: McCrory pushes back against veto overrides
The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before. But Gov. Pat McCrory immediately pushed back, saying he will not carry out the new drug-testing of welfare recipients law, and he will consider challenging the new immigration law if it doesn’t withstand legal scrutiny. McCory’s communications staff released a long written statement late Wednesday morning reiterating his earlier concerns about the two bills. McCrory said the executive branch would not take any action on House Bill 392, the drug-testing bill, until legislators find the money to pay for its implementation across the state. It would allow welfare recipients to be tested if social workers suspect they have been abusing drugs, and in some circumstances be required to get fingerprinted.
Washington Post: North Carolina GOP split on immigration
The North Carolina House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to override two vetoes issued by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the first time in state history a Republican-controlled legislature bucked a governor of their own party. The two votes illustrated deep divisions within the state House — and a schism between a rookie, outsider governor and more entrenched members of his own party. Republicans, who hold overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, largely stuck together to override McCrory’s veto of a bill that would expand drug testing for recipients of welfare and TANF, a state-administered federal assistance program for low-income families. But a second bill that would have exempted agricultural businesses from the federal e-Verify program drew support from a coalition of urban and suburban Democrats and Republicans who represent agricultural districts, overriding McCrory’s veto by a wide margin. The measure, which needed 70 votes out of the 116 members present to override McCrory’s veto, won 84 votes.
Dome: Berger: We expect the governor to uphold the Constitution
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has responded to Gov. Pat McCrory’s defiance in the face of the two veto overrides the General Assembly handed the governor. Berger cited the specific section of the state Constitution that requires the governor to execute the laws the legislature passes."All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the Constitution," Berger said. "We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law."
Pilot Online: N.C. House votes to override both McCrory vetoes
The North Carolina House voted Tuesday to cancel Gov. Pat McCrory’s first two vetoes, handing setbacks to a Republican governor who fell short in persuading enough lawmakers in a chamber generally friendly to him to come to his side .In less than 40 minutes of debate, the House voted to override vetoes on bills that would require drug-testing for some welfare applicants and broaden an exemption for employers to avoid using the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new workers. The 77-39 vote for the drug testing bill and the 84-32 margin on the immigration-related bill cleared the three-fifths majorities needed for overrides.
Cary Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state’s Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said. Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state’s implementation of the federal health program for people with low income."I’m going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we’re going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That’s coming in the next three, four months. I’ll probably introduce them while the legislature’s out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we’re going to get raises to the teachers."
Just over a month after ending its regular session for the year, the GOP-led N.C. House reconvened in Raleigh on Tuesday to override two vetoes issued by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. On a vote of 77-39, the House first voted to pass House Bill 392 over McCrory’s veto. That measure, which originally passed 92-21 in the House and 42-4 in the Senate in July, would require welfare recipients to undergo drug testing. McCrory rejected the bill last month, saying it “could lead to inconsistent application across the state’s 100 counties.”
Tasting the defeat of overrides on his first two vetoes, a defiant Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that he still won’t implement one of the bills the General Assembly passed because lawmakers didn’t give him enough money to do so. Barely an hour after the Senate completed the overrides first started by the House late Tuesday, McCrory used a State Board of Education meeting to criticize fellow Republicans for passing a bill requiring drug-testing for certain welfare recipients.
McCrory used an appearance at the State Board of Education to announce that his Department of Health and Human Service wouldn’t take steps to enforce drug testing, which he called an "unfunded mandate" because lawmakers didn’t provide money to carry it out. The budget does designate funding for the testing, but a spokeswoman for the governor said the funding is insufficient. On the E-Verify law, he said he would ask his aides "to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state," noting that he doesn’t want North Carolina residents to lose jobs to people in the country illegally. McCrory also criticizing lawmakers for passing the two bills in the first place, as well as other legislation approved late in the session. Both he and the majority of the General Assembly are Republican, but they have tangled over a number of issues this year.
Dome: Senate honors Kinnaird
The state Senate on Wednesday adjourned in honor of Ellie Kinnaird, the longtime senator who resigned her seat recently to concentrate on grassroots organizing. On Sen. Floyd McKissick’s motion, senators spoke fondly of the Democrat from Orange County.Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Republican from Archdale, said, "Ellie was an unabashed liberal. … Be whatever you are, but be that," Tillman said.
At the moment, seven states across the country don’t levy a tax on income, and North Carolina Republicans want to make it eight, according to a powerful member of the state legislature.State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday that he hoped to use the 2015 legislative session to eliminate the state income tax, replacing it with a consumption-based sales tax to make up for the lost revenue.
McCrory used his time to both talk about education and explain why he vetoed a pair of bills. One of those measures extends from 90 days to nine months the amount of of time an employee can work without having his or her immigration status checked against the federal E-Verify database. Agricultural interests pushed for the veto override, and backers of the bill mostly cited farm interests in arguing for an override. But McCrory said other industries were at play."Some of the manufacturers in towns like High Point worked hard for this bill because they, frankly, want to hire illegal immigrants as opposed to North Carolina workers and paying good wages," McCrory said. The governor did not stop to take questions from reporters after that appearance.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory “found” $10 million to give 3,000 teachers a pay raise when they complete graduate degrees, his office said today.The announcement comes after a month of protests across the state, including a gathering of more than 5,000 people in Asheville, over GOP-backed policies critics say are bad for the poor, minorities, women, the environment and schools. Finding the money to compensate teachers who get advanced degrees is the right move, said Anna Austin, of the 900-member Buncombe County Association of Educators.“I’d like to know where he found that,” she said. “I’d like to see his piggy bank.” The move also comes a week after an Associated Press report revealed McCrory gave two former campaign staffers hefty raises despite their lack of experience and education. The two staffers, both 24, were not qualified for even entry-level positions in the area of the state health department they now oversee.
The Democratic National Committee, which has been without an executive director for weeks, has tapped former New York labor official Laura Santucci to fill the slot for the time being, officials said. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced the move Wednesday, officials said.
Politico: Epic fall(s) Grab a chair: Congress is about to get as fascinating and powerful as it gets.In the next two months, the most unpopular institution in America will decide the fates of a president’s power, a military strike, defense contracts, the budget, health-care implementation, the Federal Reserve chairmanship, illegal immigrants, and all of us who would be hit by a debt default. It will be bitter, ugly, extremely high stakes and in every case wildly unpredictable. “In 33 years, we’ve never come back from summer break with the number of very critical, important issues that we’re going to confront over the next 90 to 120 days,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told us. “It’s an amazing time.”
President Barack Obama is heading into the lion’s den of Russia, confronting Syria’s key patron as well as foreign leaders skeptical of his call for an international military strike against Bashar Assad’s government. Obama on Thursday began a two-day visit to St. Petersburg for the Group of 20 economic summit, putting him in the same country as Edward Snowden for the first time since the American fugitive fled to Moscow earlier this year.
Roll Call: Study Finds ‘Lower Than Expected’ Obamacare Premiums
A new Kaiser Family Foundation study found “lower than expected” premiums for the new Obamacare health insurance exchanges.“While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected. For example, we estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.”
Former President Bill Clinton is urging opponents of the federal health care overhaul to help implement it rather than continue "replaying" debates about the measure and trying to repeal it.Speaking at his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., Clinton on Wednesday offered a detailed defense of the law as a key part of its implementation nears. Clinton’s speech is the first in a series by administration officials and allies before the Oct. 1 open enrollment for the insurance exchanges.Clinton praised his home state of Arkansas for its plan to use Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and the GOP-led Legislature approved the plan as an alternative to expanding Medicaid
The Secretary of Explaining Stuff is back on the job. On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech about Obamacare—why it was necessary, how it will work, and what it will do in the future. The speech itself was typical Clinton: It started about 25 minutes late, ran for nearly an hour, and was full of policy detail. Yes, he cited the Rand Corporation and the Commonwealth Fund. Most important, though, Clinton explained why those details mattered—to the taxpaying public, to businesses, and to individual Americans.
Sen. Kay Hagan is backing a bipartisan bill that would mean more sales of forest products from North Carolina.The Forest Products Fairness Act, sponsored by Senators Mark Pryor, D-Ariz, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, would open new opportunities for forestry producers by allowing their products to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program, Hagan’s office said.“This bill will help to level the playing field for forestry products in the marketplace,” said Hagan in a statement. “It is important that we make sure our forestry, timber and paper industries can continue to thrive. When these industries are thriving, they create jobs and provide important products to North Carolina at lower costs. I urge my colleagues to come together and pass this commonsense legislation.”
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will be in Asheville on Friday to tour the Thermo Fisher plant and meet with employees. Hagan is expected to be at the facility on Aiken Road at 2:30 p.m., according to a news release from her office. Hagan will speak with employees about issues in Washington that affect their industry, workforce development and the overall economy.
In his third year as speaker of the North Carolina state House, Tillis oversaw passage of a major overhaul of the Tarheel State’s tax code, a significant rewrite of the state’s election laws, new restrictions on abortion legislation tied to a bill relating to motorcycle safety, and a measure that will dramatically reshuffle the state’s highway funding priorities. Aside from redistricting measures implemented before the 2012 elections, which effectively solidified Republican control over the state legislature and the bulk of North Carolina’s congressional districts, Tillis’s Republicans have accomplished more of their agenda in 2013 than they had in the previous two years since taking over control of the state House in 2011. But not without a political cost. As his party advanced many of the more controversial proposals this year, Tillis watched the legislature’s approval rating drop, while a mishmash of civil rights leaders, abortion rights advocates and labor union supporters formed weekly protests outside the legislative building. Some weeks, more than 1,000 people would show up to protest; one Democrat said it was his party’s version of the tea party.Now, as Tillis begins laying the groundwork for a bid against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, he finds himself with a record of accomplishments to run on — but a record that much of the state isn’t happy about. Control of Hagan’s seat, and perhaps control of the entire Senate, may hinge on how voters judge the actions of their state representatives in Raleigh.
Sate Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Tuesday he hasn’t decided whether to run for U.S. Senate. Earlier this summer, Berger said he would make a decision by the end of July. With that deadline well gone, Berger said he is still talking over the potential campaign with local and national Republicans alike."I don’t have an announcement as of now," Berger said shortly after the state Senate finished work for the day Tuesday.
When Bill Clinton took the stage Wednesday to sell Obamacare, his main mission was to explain the merits of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. But the 42nd president’s choice of venue — his old stomping grounds of Little Rock, Ark. — was also telling. It’s a place he’ll be visiting frequently during the 2014 campaign cycle, to help out a pair of Democrats Clinton has known for decades trying to win tough races in the reddening state.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will try Wednesday night to raise money off a Republican strategist’s charge that their candidate in Kentucky is an “empty dress.”National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brad Dayspring said earlier that Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is “incapable of articulating her own thoughts” and an “empty dress.” This drew charges of sexism from Grimes’s camp, women’s groups and a chorus of progressives. Her opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, launched a women’s coalition effort last Friday.“How ironic that Mitch McConnell talks about the importance of women voters to his campaign, and a few days later, his spokesman uses a sexist smear against a strong, smart and capable woman,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said in a statement to POLITICO. “I don’t understand these men in the Republican Party. It seems almost impossible for them to open their mouths
Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker acknowledged Wednesday he is thinking about running for governor in 2016. Meeker told Dome he believes he is one of about a dozen Democrats with the background, contacts and potential to unseat first-term Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
He said he’s considering a return to the campaign trail, but that no serious decisions would be made until after the 2014 mid-term elections.
Democrat Kenneth Spaulding—former North Carolina State Representative and a Durham native—announced his plans last week to run for governor of North Carolina in 2016. Spaulding’s August 26 announcement comes three years before the election and follows controversial state legislation, including new voter identification laws and decreased education funding. He says that after speaking with his constituents, he believes they are unhappy with the current state government.“North Carolina can do much better,” Spaulding said. “It is clear that the taxpayers and voters are looking for a reasonable alternative to the extremist positions and actions that have been taken by the Governor and his legislative majority.”
Republicans have begun trying to damage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s political image ahead of her expected 2016 White House bid.The GOP calculates that it needs to make an early start in ramping up public scrutiny of Clinton — and that it will be too late if it waits much longer. The party assumes Clinton will announce a presidential campaign in early 2015 but sees that preparations are well underway and fears that the media have already begun to rally to the Democratic banner.Its efforts are intended to make sure Clinton does not have the same big head start in 2016 that President Obama enjoyed in 2012. And it is focused on the media, which Republicans fear will rally to Clinton’s cause in the same way it embraced Obama in 2008.
Politics USA: North Carolina University Student Beats the GOP’s Vote Suppression Road Show Fortunately, the State Board of Elections unanimously reversed the county’s decision on Tuesday. Montravius King had every reason to be confident the State Board would reverse Pasquotank County’s decision because the question of whether a dorm room meets the residency requirement was already settled law in North Carolina. At the same time, Republicans in North Carolina have a special way of looking at laws protecting voting rights and for that matter any other rights that benefit people beyond the Tea Party/Republican base. If given an opening, right wing ideologues will run with the opportunity to restrict certain votes as much as possible.
For the first time in its history, North Carolina will allow taxpayer funds to go to largely unaccountable private schools, 70 percent of which are religious institutions, beginning in the 2014-15 school year. School vouchers, enacted by the General Assembly in July by way of its 2013-15 biennial budget, are formally known as the “Opportunity Scholarships Program.” Lawmakers tagged $10 million of the state budget for vouchers, which will be worth up to $4,200 for eligible families to use at private schools in North Carolina. Applications for the school vouchers will be accepted beginning February 1, 2014. NC Policy Watch today begins in-depth look at school vouchers with a three-part story that will examine how the voucher program will work, concerns about institutional accountability and student success, and a look at some of the private institutions that stand to benefit from the Opportunity Scholarships Program.
With President Obama seeking Congressional approval for a military strike in Syria, here’s what our U.S. Senators and Congressmen are saying. Democrat North Carolina U.S. Senator Kay Hagan has not specifically committed to the use of military force, but over the weekend she tweeted, "Without putting American troops on the ground, atrocities in Syria require a strong response that will prevent them from happening again."
The White House on Wednesday praised the Senate Foreign Relations panel for quickly approving the use of military force in Syria as the president builds a case for a military response to the Syrian government’s alleged gassing of its citizens.
In 1988, the Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis, carried 26 percent of the nation’s counties, 819 of 3,144, on his way to losing the Electoral College 426-111 and the popular vote by seven percentage points. In 2012, President Obama won fewer counties, 690, but he won the popular vote by four points and the Electoral College in a landslide, 332-206.The forces behind this shift illuminate the internal realignments taking place within the two major political parties. But first let’s look at how a candidate could carry 129 fewer counties but come out way ahead on Election Day. In the simplest terms, Democrats started to win populous suburban counties in big states with lots of Electoral College votes beginning with Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992, at the same time that they began to lose sparsely populated rural counties, many of which lie in small states with very few Electoral College votes.
Only a mistaken vote by an avowed opponent of natural gas exploration allowed North Carolina Republicans to put the state on the path to allowing the process known as “fracking.” Now, if lawmakers accept a study group’s recommendation, that could mean some landowners are forced into allowing the procedure on their property, even if it contradicts their wishes. Instead of choosing a more reasonable, go-it-slow approach to authorizing an exploration method that could have significant environmental and economic costs, Raleigh seems committed to proceeding at break-neck speed. That may serve the oil and gas companies, eager to turn a profit selling North Carolina’s resources, but it does little to protect the public’s best interest.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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