Politics & Government

NC GOP senators oppose GOP plan on sales tax shift

GOP senators oppose GOP plan

Two Republican senators from Mecklenburg County say they’ll buck their party on a plan to redistribute sales tax revenue.

Sens. Bob Rucho and Jeff Tarte said in a news release that while they support some of the economic development incentives in the Senate version of HB 117, they’ll have to vote against the bill in its current form.

They said a proposed sales tax redistribution “could cause serious financial harm to Mecklenburg and potentially 20 other counties.”

A legislative report says Mecklenburg County eventually would lose $12 million a year under the plan. The city of Charlotte would lose nearly $5 million, and the county’s small towns also would see less revenue.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said last week the county could lose as much as $62 million over five years, potentially requiring a 5 1/2-cent property tax rate increase to make up for that.

“It will hurt the county,” she told a reporter. “That’s money that we need to meet the needs of our county.”

The two senators said they’ll support a plan “that will enable nearly all counties to be winners.” Such a plan is not yet on the table. Jim Morrill

Study finds permits reduce gun deaths

With a controversial gun bill headed to the N.C. House as soon as this week, critics last week released a new study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

The North Carolina bill, whose sponsors include Republican Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer of Charlotte, would phase out the current system that requires local sheriffs to issue permits for handgun purchases.

Supporters say most handgun buyers would be subject to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. They say the federal system would offer a more standardized, less arbitrary system.

Researchers found that a 1995 Connecticut law that requires background checks for handgun permits resulted in a 40 percent reduction in that state’s firearm-related homicide rate.

Researchers at the center, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, compared Connecticut’s homicide rates during the 10 years following the law’s introduction to the rates that would have been expected had the law not been enacted.

“Permit-to-purchase laws … appear to reduce the availability of handguns to criminals and other people who are not legally permitted to buy guns,” says Daniel Webster, the study’s author and director of the Hopkins Center. Jim Morrill

Example No. 432: Beware of open mics

Sen. Mark Kirk said in an interview that he regrets referring to Sen. Lindsey Graham as a “bro with no ho” but declined to clarify or further explain his controversial remark.

One of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2016, the Illinois Republican made the remark about Graham during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup session Thursday. The Huffington Post, which first reported the comment, posted audio of the hot mic incident.

“I’ve been joking with Lindsey,” Kirk said, according to audio from the Huffington Post. “Did you see that? He’s going to have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho.”

After emerging from a meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the usually outspoken Kirk was mostly mum about what he’d said about Graham, a longtime bachelor with White House ambitions.

Asked if he regretted the comment, Kirk responded: “I do.”

Graham has made light of his bachelorhood, joking last week that if he wins the presidency, he would have a “rotating first lady.” The 59-year-old South Carolina senator has never married and has no children. Politico

Pittenger in Paris

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger was scheduled to speak in Paris this weekend at the 2015 International Convention for Democracy, sponsored by Iran’s pro-democracy movement.

Aides say the Charlotte Republican was invited by the Organization for Iranian American Communities. Around 100,000 were expected at the event.

Pittenger was invited because of his work in opposition to the current Iranian leadership as chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. He’ll cite the persecution of religious minorities and political dissidents.

Also invited: Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Jim Morrill

McCrory likes tax credit chances

Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday he’s optimistic the legislature will restore the state’s historic preservation tax credit program, despite the Senate not including it in its budget last week.

“I think there’s going to be a consensus,” McCrory told reporters after he and Susan Kluttz, the North Carolina secretary of cultural resources, advocated for the program during a stop in downtown Mooresville.

“This is a Ronald Reagan concept ... and we ought to continue it on the state level because it’s working revitalizing the Main Streets of North Carolina,” the governor said. “The House has already supported that effort, and I’m still confident we’ll get a historical tax credit bill in.”

The circa 1906 Bridgetree building in which McCrory and Kluttz spoke underwent a $1.8 million renovation thanks to the program.

“Without the tax credit, it wouldn’t have been economically feasible,” Bridgetree CEO Chris Talley said. The global marketing technology firm brings 7,000-plus people to meetings in the building each year, he said. Joe Marusak

Lawmaker leaves for policy post

State Rep. Rick Glazier, one of the chief floor debaters for House Democrats, will resign his position to become executive director of the nonprofit N.C. Justice Center.

Glazier, who represented Fayetteville in the House for 13 years, announced his intentions last week. He had focused on education issues.

Glazier will start at the left-leaning center, which includes N.C. Policy Watch and the Budget & Tax Center, when the current legislative session ends.

“I eagerly look forward to assisting in the center’s vital mission of making this state a kinder, safer and better place for all who reside and work here,” Glazier said in a statement.

In a statement, state Republican Party executive director Todd Poole said Glazier was joining an anti-Republican think tank that “has been the brain, mouthpiece and echo chamber for the radical left’s obstructionism and criticism of Republican policies for years...”

Glazier, who has led House and joint committees on ethics, said he has consulted about the new position with legislative ethics staff and there is “no issue.”

GOP House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain called Glazier “a true friend” and “an unwavering advocate for the people of North Carolina and Cumberland County.”

“He stood firm for his convictions yet was a key player in bipartisan negotiations in the House and will be missed by colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Moore said. J.Andrew Curliss, The (Raleigh) News & Observer