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Civitas president apologizes for post blasting McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute is apologizing for a blog post he wrote last week and quickly deleted that accused Gov. Pat McCrory and his chief of staff of cronyism.

Francis De Luca posted his mea culpa Tuesday. "In trying to be vigilant against cronyism or even the appearance of cronyism— whether from the left or the right, liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans — I made a mistake," he wrote, saying he skewed some facts in the original piece. "In talking about the event the Governor attended, I painted with too broad a brush by implying that an elected official’s appearance at an event involving organizations that lobby for state funds is tantamount to cronyism."

Poll finds support for tax reform, tax cuts

A new state survey shows strong support for the idea of tax reform and for lower taxes.

A poll conducted for the The Civitas institute, a Raleigh-based conservative advocacy group, found that 69 percent of those surveyed thought North Carolina's tax system needed to be reformed, while only 23 percent thought the tax system was working fine.

NAACP dismisses Civitas website, pushes forward with 8th Moral Monday

The NAACP’s Rev. William Barber said the Civitas Institute was “trying to play a trick,” diverting media attention away from the issues that matter, by publishing personal information about arrested protesters in an online database.

Civitas listed arrested protesters’ names, occupations, sex, race and other demographics on its website, drawing an outcry from those promoting the demonstrations. But one protester said he's not deterred.

Morning Memo: Civitas protester database draws complaints

HOUSE OFFER MOVES ON CORPORATE TAX: From AP: The House's latest tax offer to the Senate would reduce the corporate income tax rate more quickly compared to the package the chamber approved two weeks ago and agrees to the Senate's position on the future of several sales tax exemptions, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The House offer would still retain the 2 percent local tax on groceries. The Senate wants to eliminate it. Both proposals would result in several hundred million fewer dollars for state tax coffers over the next two years, with the Senate proposal now sitting in a committee holding the higher price tag.

CIVITAS MORAL MONDAY PROJECT STIRS BLACKLIST COMPARISONS: The Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank the largely supports the Republican legislative agenda, posted the name, age, address and employer of all protesters arrested at the legislature during the Moral Monday events, along with other personal information in a new database online. Read more on the reaction below.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Click below for more about a GOP lawmaker's last minute addition to the state budget, President Barack Obama's pick for the federal bench in North Carolina and more.***

Morning Memo: Arrests near 500, Democrats debut anti-Tillis website

TOTAL ARRESTS NEAR 500: Eighty-four demonstrators were arrested by the N.C. General Assembly police on Monday, bringing the total since April 29 to more than 480. Holly Jordan, 29, a teacher at Hillside High School in Durham, said she decided to get arrested on Monday because she was thoroughly upset with the education policies and budgets proposed. She knew that some of the Republicans had described their naysayers as “aging hippies” and “outsiders” who considered it “en vogue” to get arrested.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The Senate will take a final vote on its tax plan, and send it to the House. The two chambers remain far apart on how to cut taxes. The House will consider Gov. Pat McCrory's transportation funding bill. In committees, House lawmakers will consider a bill to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on certain roads and a bill requiring cursive -- which is likely to be remade entirely at the last minute, given a similar bill passed earlier this session. Senate lawmakers will meet in committees to consider a bill requiring background checks on those who receive some public assistance and another measure to roll back energy efficiency regulations on building to 2009 levels.

Gov. Pat McCrory will visit another rotary club, this time in Winston-Salem, before meeting with unidentified business leaders in a private meeting at Womble Carlyle, a law firm that also has a lobbying practice.

***Below in the Dome Morning Memo -- U.S. Senate race news, remember Jim Holshouser and a legislative roundup.***

Civitas requests investigations of state elections agency

UPDATED: The Civitas Institute is requesting the North Carolina attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and State Board of Elections investigate state election staffers for engaging in political activity, alleging possible criminal violations, in sweeping complaints filed Tuesday.

The conservative think tank also wants inquiries into the conduct of Bob Hall, the director and lobbyist for Democracy North Carolina, an advocacy organization that often butts heads with Civitas.

In the four letters, Civitas President Francis De Luca identifies three areas for investigation that it uncovered in more than 5,000 emails obtained through public records requests. (Read them below.)

Vast majority oppose food tax hike, skeptical of tax overhaul

Only one in 10 North Carolina voters support a sales tax on groceries, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey, and many appear uninterested in the House and Senate tax plans.

The Senate tax plan would levy a 6.5 percent state and local sales tax on food -- 14 years after state lawmakers repealed it. Local governments currently can tax food at 2 percent but the state doesn't received the revenue.

The Democratic firm's poll of North Carolina voters found that 81 percent oppose the Senate's idea and another 9 percent are undecided. The House tax plan doesn't touch the food tax.

Asked if they support the Senate's tax plan (without description of what it did), 44 percent opposed the plan and another 42 percent were undecided. Only 14 percent support it. Likewise, the House plan -- which debuted Thursday -- fared about the same with just 11 percent supportive and 41 percent opposed. Another 48 percent were undecided.

Morning Memo: Crossover week begins at #NCGA; Ben Carson to visit Raleigh

Welcome to Crossover Week on Jones Street. Think the action’s been fast so far? Well, hold onto our elephant ears, this week lawmakers will be shoveling as many bills as possible through committee and out to their floors for a vote to meet a Thursday deadline dubbed crossover.

The House and Senate rules say that bills that don’t raise or spend money or propose amendments to the state constitution must pass either the House or Senate by Thursday to be considered during the session. Of course, rules are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive. Dome’s favorite: Strip a bill that has already crossed over of its language and insert your bill of choice.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Read more about the issues hanging in the balance this week at the legislature. And send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: More strong numbers for McCrory, immigration ads debut

CIVITAS POLL PUTS McCRORY ABOVE 50%: A Civitas poll puts Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's favorability rating at 54 percent, a touch higher than a poll earlier in the week showing it at 49 percent. His unfavorable rating is 30 percent, according to the political nonprofit that traditionally supports Republicans. Look for more numbers on Dome soon.

IMMIGRATION ADS PROVIDE GOP COVER: Americans for a Conservative Direction, a group backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is airing an ad in North Carolina that defends the immigration legislation. The Hill reports that it is targeted at six red-leaning states and designed to support Republicans who favor the plan. From the story: "Anyone who thinks that what we have now on immigration is not a problem is fooling themselves," (Marco Rubio) says in a news clip featured in the ad. A narrator goes on to say that "conservative leaders have a plan," and cites news outlets like McClatchy, CNN and the Washington Post in describing it as "the toughest enforcement measure in the history of the United States," "bold" and "very conservative."

***Happy Friday! Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. A quiet day in N.C. politics. No legislative action and the governor lists no public events. Find more news and analysis below. ***

Morning Memo: Voter ID week starts, Foxx gets FBI vetting

VOTER ID WEEK BEGINS: A highly partisan voter ID measure that could cost more than $3.7 million gets heard in an appropriations committee Tuesday but the outcome is set. The House plans to reserve Wednesday and Thursday for floor debate. The State Board of Elections suggested as many as 318,000 registered voters may not have driver's licenses.

FOXX CLOSE TO BECOMING OBAMA APPOINTEE?  The FBI has been backgrounding Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who’s reportedly a candidate to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation, sources say. The FBI typically backgrounds potential candidates for federal appointments, Jim Morrill reports from Charlotte. Foxx, who has said he won’t run for a third term this year, has been mentioned for the transportation post now held by Ray LaHood.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

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