ON JONES STREET- Surprise! Two veto votes today?

In a surprise move, the Republican leadership in the general assembly announced they are working to override Governor Bev Perdue’s veto. No, not that veto. They are pulling back the first veto- SB13- the Balanced Budget Act. The reasoning is Perdue is overstepping her authority and the law by saying she will borrow money from the Employment Security Commission to help with “cash flow” issues. Namely- finding enough money to pay tax refunds. So, Republicans say there is an easy fix to that… use their plan to take money from several state incentive funds. The vote is happening in the senate TODAY…

Veto drama at the legislature

Well, it’s getting ugly quickly at the legislature between the governor and Republican leadership at the General Assembly.

It appeared the legislature would leave Gov. Perdue’s veto on S13 alone but in a flash that changed today. Today was originally the day lawmakers were going to try and override her veto of H2, which exempted North Carolina from the federal health care mandate. Republicans would need four House Democrats to vote for them in order to override either veto.

Here’s the latest joint release from Speaker Tillis and Sen. Berger.

Raleigh, N.C. – Gov. Beverly Perdue’s plan to raid nearly $500 million from various state accounts to pay state tax refunds exceeds the power granted to her by the North Carolina Constitution and breaks state law, according to non-partisan professional legislative staff. It also will jeopardize the state’s ability to pay tax refunds in a timely manner.

Part of the governor’s proposal would borrow about $100 million from an Employment Security Commission reserve fund, which non-partisan professional legislative staff says violates Article V Section 5 of the Constitution. Staff also stated that Goldston v. State confirmed that the governor lacks the legal authority to redistribute these funds without authorization from the legislature. The governor vetoed SB 13, which would have solved the problem.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) today announced the Senate and House will attempt to override the governor’s veto of SB 13, the Balanced Budget Act of 2011, which would give her the authority she requested to cut $400 million in the current fiscal year and target another $400 million in immediate savings. The Senate plans to vote on an override later this afternoon.

“We must get North Carolinians their refund checks promptly, but the governor’s plan to pay them is irresponsible and illegal,” said Berger. “She has an alternative — Senate Bill 13 gives her the authority to legally meet her obligation to our taxpayers.”

“If the governor is truly serious about seeing that taxpayers get their refunds, she will allow at least four of her Democratic colleagues in the House to support an override of SB 13,” said Tillis. “After last year’s debacle — her decision to allow taxpayer refunds to be delayed — you would think the governor would have gotten ahead of this. Instead, she devises a financially unsound and an arguably illegal scheme at the eleventh hour that risks legal action against the state.”

Background

State Controller David McCoy notified a member of Sen. Berger’s staff late Monday evening that the governor directed him to divert up to $491 million from various state funds to secure enough money for state tax refund checks. On Tuesday, Berger and Tillis said the governor has known for months they would need to pay refunds and that she should have taken steps to address the problem long ago. They also said it was highly inappropriate to borrow $100 million from a reserve fund within the Employment Security Commission, which needs to be used to help pay a $2.6 billion debt owed to the federal government.

End release

ON JONES STREET: Expanding Capitol Police Power?

State lawmakers are looking to file a bill that would Capitol Police officers more power, and in theory, protect them. One of Speaker Thom Tillis’ senior staff members (he is sponsoring this bill) introduced the legislation to a judicial committee on Wednesday morning- telling the legislators that if they haven’t received a threat yet- they will, and they need this extra protection. Lawmakers say they want to make sure it does not cause problems with local law enforcement divisions. Here is a little bit of the bill presentation:

Intern urges minority students to pursue legislative careers

WINSTON-SALEM — A Winston-Salem State University student who is serving as an intern in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington D.C. wants to do her share to expose minority students to international study and legislative career opportunities.

Amilca O’Conner, a WSSU senior Rehabilitation Studies major, is one of nine participants in this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.’s (CBCF) Emerging Leaders intern program in Washington D.C.

She is also currently enrolled in George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Program, giving her a combination of hands-on coursework and networking opportunities. The Raleigh native is assigned to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Having pursued international study and an internship on Capital Hill, O’Conner sees herself in a rewarding and unique position that many minorities never consider. She recently wrote a blog about her experiences for the U.S Department of Labor.

“This has been an awesome experience, and while I don’t have a job yet, I know that in whatever I will eventually do, I will be committed to exposing minority students to international study and careers in legislative roles,” said O’Conner. “Many minorities may not be aware the educational advantages and promising career possibilities available in these areas.”

The CBCF Emerging Leaders Series (ELS) began in 2004 as a special track of issue forums during the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) designed to equip students and young professionals with legislative and advocacy tools to effect change in their communities.

Program Interns receive a stipend and housing and work in CBC member offices. They also attend professional development events and participate in leadership development projects. The program prepares young people to become informed decision makers and influential leaders who shape the world.

“I would like to encourage more minority involvement in governmental activities and pending legislation, and bring awareness to various issues on hand that will impact lives,” O’Conner said.
O’Conner, who wants to work in a federal legislation role, says she didn’t plan or consider this course for her life. It came from her international studies experiences, which she didn’t plan either.

O’Conner is a member of WSSU’s Ralph Bunche Society. Founded in 2007, WSSU has served as a model for future Ralph Bunche Society chapters. The Ralph Bunche Society was developed by the Phelps Stokes Fund to create a broader base of undergraduate student participation in global affairs, regardless of a student’s field of study, increase global and cultural awareness, develop language skills, hone student leadership skills, and increase minority student involvement in international arenas and the expanding global community.

O’Conner said it was because of the Ralph Bunche society she received a previous internship with the United Negro College Fund Special Program’s Institute for International Public Policy, and study abroad in Ghana and Benin. It was there she also learned of her current internship. From these experiences, she looks forward to promoting volunteerism and public service.

ON JONES STREET- Money moving questioned

A bit of a back and forth today between the republican leaders in the general assembly and Governor Bev Perdue (after this second bill veto- I suspect there will be a lot more of this to come). Speaker Tillis and President Pro-tem Berger say they were told Monday night by the state controller that money would be taken from the unemployment fund to help with state cash flow. Clearly, since tax returns are in full force right now, the state is scrambling to collect money to pay returns on time. The republicans say we should not be borrowing from Peter to pay Paul- but Perdue says this is common practice- and is the best way to keep the government running smoothly. Here are part of both of their remarks:

Poll: N.C. residents split on President, local representatives

HIGH POINT – The Survey Research Center at High Point University finds that North Carolina residents are split on their approval of President Barack Obama.

The most recent HPU survey finds that 47 percent of people in the state approve of Obama while 46 percent report disapproval and eight percent expressed no opinion on the matter. The findings are similar to that of some national approval rating polls.

More Information:

Full results and methodological details from the survey can be found at the Survey Research Center website,src.highpoint.edu/

The survey also continued to track the relative approval of other federal and state officials and the mood of North Carolinians:

• Job approval of President Obama was split with 47 percent reporting approval, 46 percent reporting disapproval, and 8 percent not expressing an opinion.

• Thirty-two percent approved of how Republicans in Congress were doing their jobs while 54 percent disapproved and 14 percent declined to express an opinion.

• Thirty-eight percent approved of how Governor Bev Perdue is doing her job while 44 percent disapproved and 19 percent had no opinion.

• Thirty-nine percent approved of how Senator Richard Burr is doing his job while 29 percent disapproved and 33 percent had no opinion.

• Thirty-three percent approved of how Senator Kay Hagan is doing her job while 29 percent disapproved and 38 percent had no opinion.

•A large proportion of the state continued to believe that the country is on the wrong track with 66 percent expressing that concern, 26 percent saying that the country is going in the right direction, and 8 percent not expressing an opinion.

According to the results, Dr. Martin Kifer, director of the Survey Research Center, said, “North Carolinians are currently split in their judgments of the work of President Obama and many statewide office holders. Congress is not popular regardless of who is in charge. And residents of North Carolina are still very negative about the direction of the country. We are watching closely to see if any big changes occur in the coming months in the mood of the state.”

The High Point University Survey Research Center fielded the survey from Feb. 21-24. The responses came from 401 adults with landline telephones in North Carolina selected by a Random Digit Dial (RDD) method giving the survey a margin of sampling error of approximately 5 percentage points.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall talks about agent investigation

Investigators have issued a search warrant for the financial records of NFL agent Gary Wichard as they continue looking into whether North Carolina’s sports agent laws have been broken.

The search warrant was issued Tuesday to Bank of America for certain financial documents connected to Wichard and his California-based firm, Pro Tect Management LLC, since January 2009.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall’s office launched an investigation after the NCAA began looking into possible agent-related benefits in North Carolina’s football program.

Marshall spokesman George Jeter said Wednesday the search warrant was "definitely a step forward in the investigation.”

The NFL Players Association suspended Wichard in December for nine months for his role in the UNC probe.

Late this afternoon, reporter Johnny Chappell talked with the secretary of state. She said they have talked with Wichard over the phone but would not comment if they had met in person or plan to in the future. She also said the number of agents who have registered with her office has risen dramatically in the last six to eight months.

Watch for Johnny’s interview on tv and online tonight.

Another Perdue veto coming?

We had a chance to ask Governor Perdue a couple quick questions today. Here’s her response on the new Senate budget cuts bill that allows her to cut $537 million which is $137 million more than the first bill she vetoed.

She also had some interesting comments about whether or not she will veto H2, which is the bill to get rid of the health care mandate.

Rucho on redistricting, Nesbitt on new role

I had two interesting interviews this afternoon that were taped for Political Connections this weekend.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican, talked extensively about his role leading the Senate Redistricting Committee.

I asked him point blank if there was a plan to draw districts that will help Republicans. He was adamant that they will draw fair and legal maps and recent court decision reduce the ability to gerrymander maps.

Sen. Rucho said, "whenever we draw these districts wherever the incumbent lives is not an issue with me. It’s a matter of drawing good, fair, legal districts."

Interestingly, he said he’s not personally in favor of an independent redistricting commission. He said that will not take politics out of it because politicians would likely appoint the commission members.

He was also pretty blunt about Gov. Perdue and her veto and called it absurd.

Check out Sen. Rucho’s interview and an interview with Sen. Martin Nesbitt this weekend. Sen. Nesbitt is now minority leader after being majority leader. We will talk about the changes he has faced.

Political Connections airs Friday nights at 6pm and Sundays at 11am.

Another busy Tuesday at the legislature

Beyond the daily budget briefings and meetings, there are plenty of big topics on the agenda again at the state legislature.

The House insurance committee will take up a bill to move the state health plan to the state treasurer’s office.

On the Senate side, it’s a really busy day. First, on the floor, a final vote is likely on a bill that would increase fines for speeding in a school zone.

Medical liability reform could get a vote out of the judiciary committee. The agriculture committee will take up terminal groins which is a huge issue along the coast.

The big one of the day might be in appropriations where Senators will take up the Republican response bill to the governor’s veto of SB13. This is the bill that cuts spending for the rest of the current fiscal year. Governor Perdue vetoed SB13 when it cut economic incentive money. This bill requires the governor to cut even more money but leaves the incentive money alone. Should be interesting to see where this one goes.

Non-profits from across the state will band together and spend the day lobbying lawmakers and pleading to keep their funding in the state budget.

Involuntary annexation could get taken back up in finance.

For a full list of what’s going on and to read the bills click below.

House calendar

Senate calendar