Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning, and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for FRIDAY, Feb. 22. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory heads to Washington, D.C. today for the National Governors Association winter meeting. According to his public schedule, McCrory will stay through the weekend, attending a dinner at the White House Sunday and a governors-only meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday.
MEMO: A strategy memo circulated to left-of-center groups sparked an outcry from Republicans Thursday evening. The memo and accompanying polling data calls for liberals to attack GOP ethics and conflicts of interest. It cites "tensions" between House and Senate Republicans and calls McCrory "extremely thin-skinned."
"I think it's shameful," said Ray Martin, caucus director for state Senate Republicans. "This is who is in control of the Democratic Party in North Carolina, radical left-wing zealots."
LEGISLATURE: There are no legislative meetings scheduled for today.
WRAP: The legislative week ended with Senators taking up the group-home fix and sending the possum drop bill to McCrory. Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker review the day and look ahead to next week in Thursday's The Wrap @NCCapitol.
REDISTRICTING: The Senate is reactivating its redistricting committee. "We're going to take a hard look at judicial districts," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.
FILED: Bills of interest filed Thursday include a measure aimed at bringing cursive writing back into the elementary school curriculum and a bill that would put a state program to issue drivers licenses for DACA immigrants on hold.
ALSO THURSDAY: In other legislative action Thursday:
- A Senate Committee approved legislation that would automatically revoke licenses for anyone convicted of passing a stopped school bus.
- The Senate approved a revised version of the group home fix. The measure would provide temporary funding to mentally ill people in group homes as well as Alzheimer's patients in special care units.
- The Senate sent the possum drop bill to McCrory.
MEDICAID: An outside computer expert evaluating North Carolina's new Medicaid billing system says it's on schedule to be running this summer without additional unplanned spending, reports the Associated Press. Click here to read the report summary.
PANTHERS: Although no bills have been filed yet, lawmakers are discussing whether and how to support renovations at Charlotte's NFL stadium. The idea of public funding has gotten mixed reviews.
However, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger put out a joint statement Thursday: “Conversations with the Carolina Panthers organization and local and legislative officials are ongoing and productive. The Panthers not only produce thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact, but are a source of pride for the Charlotte region and the entire state. We remain steadfast and committed to keeping the Panthers in North Carolina and will continue to work together to achieve that goal.”
INVESTIGATES: A Lexington-based company is accused of swindling hundreds of thousands of people out of money through its online auction website. The government called it a Ponzi scheme and shut it down, yet no one has been charged. As many as 840,000 people could be fighting to get their money back, including 47,000 North Carolinians. Meanwhile, others are fighting to keep the online auction concept alive.
WORTH THE READ:
- Fayetteville Observer: "Nearly 12 years after North Carolina lawmakers prohibited short-term payday loans in the state, lenders are trying to make their controversial industry legal again....Advocates for the military accuse the lenders of taking advantage of young personnel who are low-paid and naive about money matters."
- NC Policy Watch: "State Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, said he spent more than a year collecting unemployment checks, up until his August 2011 appointment to finish out the term of his predecessor....He sits in an unusual position – the program he benefited from for more than a year was drastically changed this month by the votes he and other lawmakers cast to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system."
- News & Observer: "Randy H. Dishong was hired Monday as chief enforcer of the state’s car inspection and registration laws. The next day, he had to take care of an inspection and registration problem with his own car."
- Independent Weekly: "This blog is the worst-kept secret in Lee County, where many credible sources say its founder and frequent author is Jim Womack, chairman of the state's Mining and Energy Commission, an appointed board tasked with preparing the state's regulations for hydraulic fracturing by 2014."
- Stateline: "State employees who stayed put through years of pay freezes, furloughs and layoffs could find good news in their paychecks this year. Modest pay increases have been promised at the bargaining table or are being considered in at least half the states."
- Winston-Salem Journal: "North Carolina is the only state that will clearly mark all people who are not U.S. citizens – everyone from business executives with “green cards” to students on visas – with a newly designed driver’s license coming this summer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislation in all the states." (Previously from the WJS)
- Wilmington Star News: "A proposed General Assembly bill designed to streamline state government processes could have the opposite effect, critics say, potentially burying agency employees in an avalanche of paperwork and regulatory reform measures."
- Wilmington Star News: "Holdout sweepstakes owners face $200 daily fine."