Politics & Government

Adjourning without Tillis?

Adjourning without Tillis?

If the General Assembly hopes to adjourn this week, lawmakers might have to do so without the speaker of the House, or at least work around his schedule.

Speaker Thom Tillis has two fundraisers scheduled for his U.S. Senate campaign.

On Tuesday, he’ll be at Bobby Vans Grill in Washington at an event with U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. On Wednesday, he’ll be back in D.C. at the Capitol Hill Club for a fundraiser with the state’s GOP congressional delegation.

A group of Tillis critics, meanwhile, has begun a campaign to write in John Rhodes on the November ballot. Rhodes, who lost his House seat to Tillis in 2006, has been a critic of the speaker.

A Washington Post blog called the Monkey Cage this week put Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s chances of winning re-election at 92 percent and Tillis’ at 8 percent.

Polls in North Carolina suggest a close contest. Jim Morrill

Carson coming to Concord

Their candidate has yet to announce, but supporters of would-be presidential candidate Ben Carson trumpeted their second-quarter fundraising.

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee raised $3.4 million, more than the Ready for Hillary PAC, which raised just $2.5 million.

“It tells us that Dr. Carson has struck a nerve in the center-right coalition,” said Vernon Robinson, a Winston-Salem resident and campaign director of the draft Carson committee.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is scheduled to appear in the Charlotte area Aug. 2 at Books-A-Million at Concord Mills. Jim Morrill

Meter’s running at $50,000 a day

The state budget sets aside roughly $52 million to run the General Assembly every year, or about 0.25 percent of the state’s annual budget. That number doesn’t change based on the length of the legislative session.

Still, it’s not uncommon to see critics of whichever party is in control of the General Assembly – or antsy reporters hoping to head out on vacation – cite the figure that it costs $50,000 for every day that lawmakers remain in session.

This is a $50,000 increase to the daily expenses of running the legislative branch compared with when lawmakers aren’t formally in session. The rest of the year, legislative staff members are still at work drafting bills and providing information to study committees that meet year round. Also, the legislative complex remains open to both office workers and visitors.

The $50,000 figure is something of an estimate, since the legislature doesn’t break out the extra cost by line item.

“You could assume the additional cost per day is the additional per diem, supplies, temporary employees, interns, pages and utilities cost, etc., that is required during session,” said Wesley Taylor in the legislature’s Financial Services Division.

Staffers arrive at that number by estimating that it costs $1 million more per month to operate with lawmakers in town than when the session is adjourned. That’s divided over a four-week month and a five-day workweek to arrive at $50,000.

That cost isn’t fixed however.

For example, lawmakers have the option of turning down their per diems – daily payments meant to offset the cost of commuting to or staying in Raleigh. If all 170 House and Senate members declined their $104 per diems, it would save the state $17,680 a day, according to Taylor. Mark Binker, WRAL

Pittenger’s Union County hours

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, has announced new office hours in Union County.

A spokesman says the events will feature a veteran staffer “with more than a dozen years experience helping constituents navigate federal red tape.”

• Waxhaw: Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon at 209 West South Main St.

• Stallings: Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Stallings Town Hall, 315 Stallings Road.

• Weddington: Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Weddington Town Hall, 1924 Weddington Road.

• Indian Trail: Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Indian Trail Civic Building, 100 Navajo Trail.

Jim Morrill

Democrats meet to pick new chair

Democrat Lloyd Scher, a former Mecklenburg commissioner, plans to run for chairman of the county Democratic Party.

Democrats meet Aug. 9 to pick a successor to Robin Bradford, who resigned last week. Jim Morrill