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Morning Memo: GOP Senate hopefuls take hard line on defunding Obamacare

North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates are taking a hard line on federal budget negotiations – a position that puts them at odds with the state’s lone GOP senator, Richard Burr.

Four Republican candidates said Monday they support efforts to defund the federal health care act, apparently even if those efforts lead to a government shutdown. Their comments came the same day state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced he won’t join those running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.

***Read more from the GOP candidates -- reaction to Berger's decision -- below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: McCrory opposed to new casino; Hagan still trumps GOP rivals

McCRORY OPPOSES CATAWBA CASINO: The Catawba Nation has filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in a first step toward gaining permission to build a casino and resort in Cleveland County. But Gov. Pat McCrory declined requests to endorse the application, a spokesman said Monday. In his first comments on the project, the governor's office said McCrory “remains unconvinced that any new casino proposal is in the best interest of North Carolina.” Read more here.

2014 U.S. SENATE POLL: Look for a new Public Policy Polling survey on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race later today. In a preview, Politico reports that Democrat Kay Hagan is still trumping her GOP rivals and Senate leader Phil Berger is slightly edging House Speaker Thom Tillis in a hypothetical GOP primary-- though nearly half of voters are still unsure.

***Get a full N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to***

Forest unhappy with DPI's response to his 40-page letter about Common Core

File this under: Ask and ye shall receive.

Back in July, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest sent a letter to the Department of Public Instruction with 67 questions about the Common Core State Standards, the new learning goals adopted in North Carolina and most other states. Forest has been a critic of the Common Core, which has become a favorite target of the Tea Party and conservative talk show hosts.

Forest asked State Superintendent June Atkinson for the answers by the start of this school year.

His letter was not 67 simple questions, however. Including appendices, the letter ran on for 40 pages and the questions had more than 150 sub questions and requests for documentation.

Earlier this month, he got answers. He described the DPI response Thursday in a news release and YouTube video: 12 boxes with 40,000 pieces of paper with references to 134 websites, 320 separate reports, 40 presentations, a blog post and a thumb drive. Apparently he didn't want to read it all.

Morning Memo: Education takes center stage

State Reps. Larry Hall of Durham and Rick Glazier of Fayetteville, both Democrats, called on the State Board of Education Thursday to protect the master's pay supplement for the graduating class of 2014.

The State Board imposes an April 1 deadline for completing the paperwork for teachers to get a pay supplement for having received their Master's degree. The new state budget gets rid of the pay supplement but grandfathers in those teachers who already receive it. Hall and Glazier think those teachers who went back to school to receive their masters under the impression that they'd get the pay raise (which would theoretically help pay for the cost of the degree) should be entitled to the supplement.

They've asked Superintendent June Atkinson to request that the State Board of Education extend the deadline to June 30, 2014.

TGIF and welcome to Dome's Morning Memo.

It takes 10,000 pages to answer Forest's Common Core questions

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is challenging the state's adoption of the Common Core education standards by asking the state's education department to answer 20 pages of questions (67 questions in all).

The State Department of Public Instruction received his request and asked him to provide 10,000 pages of paper so they could answer them, according to a Facebook post from Forest. The Republican said his office delivered the paper Friday and posted a photo online.

"Upon receipt of their reply to my letter, my team will methodically research all the answers supplied so that we can push this dialogue at the upcoming Board of Education meetings," Forest wrote. "I will keep you updated on the progress of this effort."

Forest is a member of the State Board of Education. No word on how much time and money it will take DPI to answer his questions or how long Forest's state-paid staff will spend going through the answers.

Forest's Common Core questions

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest continues to question the national Common Core education standards that state public schools implemented last year.

The State Board of Education has spent part of its last two meetings talking and asking questions about the standards.

Forest on Thursday released 20 pages of questions he wants answered before the board's August meeting, and an accompanying video.

The questions were in a letter to state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.

" I am concenred that North Carolina has not done the proper due diligence in vetting everything associated with the Common Core standards and what it will mean for our children, our parents and our schools," Forest said in the video.

Senate approves abortion bill, as visitors yell 'shame'

The Senate, after a long debate that invoked faith, constitutional rights and health statistics, approved a bill that would restrict abortions by stepping up requirements for clinics and doctors.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 29-12 as opponents filled the gallery above and hundreds more waited outside. The bill now goes to the House. After the vote, people in the hall began chanting, “Shame, shame, shame.” A woman in the gallery who yelled “Shame on you” was arrested.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest ordered the gallery cleared moments before the Senate adjourned.

Supporters said the new regulations are needed for safety, while opponents said the real intent is to deny access to abortions. Read the story here.

Abortion debate in Senate begins as hundreds pack gallery

UPDATED: About 500 protesters are crowded into the N.C. Senate gallery, the legislative building and outside to show opposition to a sweeping abortion bill under consideration right now. Read the latest here from the ongoing debate.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, has warned the gallery numerous times to stay quiet, threatening to clear the viewing area if they don't. He told the visitors that the senators "are your voice here on all matters. They are the only ones we'll be hearing from today."

Two Democratic amendments to weaken the bill failed. Now the debate moves to the full measure. Republicans have enough votes to easily approve the measure. (More below.)

Effort to draft Mark Harris beginning to look more like a U.S. Senate campaign

The effort to draft Rev. Mark Harris is beginning to look more like a campaign.

The committee to draft the Charlotte Republican for the U.S. Senate Wednesday announced the hiring of a new political director. Tracy Bengston of Davidson worked as scheduler for Republican Dan Forest's 2012 campaign for lieutenant governor. This month she managed Joyce Krawiec campaign for vice chair of the state GOP.

Rev. Harris is pastor of Charlotte's 1st Baptist church and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Lt. Gov. Forest opposed to major immigration bill

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says a North Carolina bill to allow immigrants in the country illegally would lead to "an influx of illegal aliens" and drain the state's social welfare programs.

"Those of us elected to office owe it to the citizens of our state to protect the rule of law," the Republican wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Winston-Salem Journal. "Our legislature should pass laws that encourage legal actions, not illegal ones."

Forest's stance makes him the most prominent opposition to date on the immigration bill, dubbed the RECLAIM NC Act, which would also allow immigrants to be jailed while police check their immigration status. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Harry Warren, considers it a compromise measure to make roads safer and free police to focus on criminals. The legislation is stuck in the House Finance Committee, where it has sat since early May.

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