SENATOR MARK WARNER CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN TRUMP/RUSSIA PROBE: Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was one of many to call the firing proof that a special prosecutor was needed to oversee the Russian meddling investigation. He called Comey’s dismissal “shocking” and “deeply troubling.” Warner said a pattern appears to be developing in the Trump administration. “The administration insists there’s no ‘there there,’ yet President Trump has so far fired the acting attorney general, nearly every U.S. attorney, and now the director of the FBI,” he said in a statement. “In addition, this president’s choice for attorney general has been forced to recuse himself, and the national security adviser has resigned, as a result of undisclosed contacts with Russian officials . . . It is vital that our ongoing investigation is completed in a credible and bipartisan way.”
RALPH HISE IN HOT WATER DUE TO INVESTIGATION BY GREG FLYNN: Democracy North Carolina referred to two complaints filed in March with the state elections board accusing Hise, a four-term Republican from Spruce Pine, of illegally taking money from his campaign account and violating laws requiring full disclosure of campaign contributors. The complaints were filed by Greg Flynn of Raleigh. The complaints against Hise claim he loaned his campaign about $50,000 but repaid himself approximately $60,000. They also say he failed to report more than $9,000 from nine political action committees over a four-year period, and that his finance reports repeatedly fail to disclose information about campaign contributors. Hise has the worst disclosure reports in the General Assembly, Democracy North Carolina claims.
SOME TOP NUMBERS ON BERGER'S BUDGET, TO BE INTRODUCED LATER TODAY: The $22.9 billion proposed budget would spend about $600 million less than Cooper called for but would still be about 3.75 percent more than the state is projected to spend in the 2016-17 fiscal year, which ends in June, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said at an afternoon news conference. The state is expected to end the fiscal year with a $580 million surplus from its $22.5 billion budget for 2016-17. The actual budget bill is expected to be filed late Tuesday before committee hearings are held on the proposal Wednesday. The two required votes on the bill would then be held Thursday and Friday before the Senate sends the budget to the House.
SENATE GOP BUDGET INCLUDES 3-YEAR BAN ON WIND ENERGY PROJECTS: The budget includes a three-year moratorium on wind energy projects to study the safety risks that wind farms pose to military installations. The provision is similar to Senate and House bills that haven’t had a hearing or vote yet. The provision would stall, and potentially derail, the proposed Timbermill Wind farm in Chowan and Perquimans counties, a project totaling 105 turbines that would extend 600 feet into the sky.
WHILE THE SENATE'S NEW BUDGET SLASHES 45 POSITIONS AT DEQ, FORMER MCCRORY ACOLYTE SITS COMFORTABLY IN JOB HE GAVE HIMSELF: What kind of business is forced to keep a former CEO, whose past actions and views are diametrically opposed to the policies and priorities of the new leadership, in a managerial post? Not a very well run one. But that’s been a fact of life, forced upon the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality since late December when former Secretary Donald van der Vaart demoted himself to a $97,200-a-year job in the Division of Air Quality. He’s now the chief of the Technical Services Section, a post that according to the department’s spokesman Jamie Kritzer, is a “necessary middle management position for the state’s air quality program.” He directly supervises two branch heads and an office assistant. It is a protected job and van der Vaart cannot be fired at will, like other political appointees.