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Morning Memo: House, Senate leaders claim victories in budget deal

BUDGET DEAL UNVEILED: House and Senate leaders released the compromise $20.6 billion budget plan Sunday evening. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger can claim wins. Eugenics compensation and vouchers are priorities for Tillis, a candidate for U.S. Senate. Berger has tried for more than a year to end teacher tenure. The two men's victories speak volumes about their political leanings and strategy and how a potential race between them would look. Berger will decide by the end of the month whether he will challenge Tillis in the GOP primary.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The 12th "Moral Monday" demonstration at the legislature will focus on a new voter ID measure. More than 800 protesters have been arrested so far with more expected Monday.

The Senate worked Friday and left the House quite a to-do list. The House calendar today includes bills pertaining to private school vouchers, a massive rewrite of state regulations, drug testing and background checks for public assistance recipients, fracking and charter schools. A bill to further delay Jordan Lake water quality standards is also on the agenda. The Senate won't take any votes Monday -- allowing Senate leader Phil Berger to attend the Republican State Leadership Committee meeting in California. He is chairman of the organization's campaign committee.

***Get more on the state state budget and a North Carolina political news roundup to start the final week of the legislative session below in the Dome 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.

McCrory asks board to blaze a trail to economic development

Gov. Pat McCrory charged the newly appointed State Economic Development Board with the task of fixing the state’s economy Wednesday when he dropped by their first meeting.

The board, chaired by John Lassiter, a longtime ally of McCrory and leader of his 501(c)(4) political committee, should develop a strategic plan in the next six months. The governor said it should last a decade and focus on three major economic issues: Medicaid, which is “busting our budget” and needs reform; getting into the energy business; and education, which holds the key to growth through vocational reform.

Bill letting charter schools expand could end Pamlico County litigation

Ongoing legal proceedings between Pamlico County Schools and the Arapaho Charter School could be halted by a conference report the House adopted Tuesday.

A provision was added to House Bill 250, which originally addressed public charter school enrollment rules. The addition would allow North Carolina charter schools to expand their education one grade level per year. It would end Arapaho Charter School’s battle with Pamlico County, allowing the Arapaho to increase from serving grades K-8 to serving K-12. Pamlico County school administrators oppose the expansion because it would draw more students away from Pamlico County High School in favor of charter education.

House passes bill on abortion discussion in classrooms

CORRECTED: This post has been corrected to reflect the correct speaker for the closing argument.

After cutting off debate, the House passed a bill that would require schools teach students about the connection of abortion to pre-term birth.

The bill will now return to the Senate for concurrence, and then head to the governor’s desk for a signature.

An amendment that would delete “causes of” and substitute “risks for,” sponsored by Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, passed in a vote of 110-4. The Committee on Health and Human Services struck down a similar amendment previously.

Rep. Paul Stam, a Republican from Apex and the bill’s main sponsor, supported the amendment, saying that “risk is not incorrect.” In a previous interview, though, he stated that “cause” is the correct “scientific term.”

Morning Memo: McCrory quietly signs RJA, Social Security is landmine for GOP

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The growing consensus at the legislative building: state lawmakers may stay in session through mid-July. And the not-in-a-hurry pace is evident in today's calendar. Only a handful of committees will meet and most of the work is being done behind the scenes among select lawmakers negotiating the tax bill and state budget. A bill allowing coastal jetties will draw a crowd in the 10 a.m. House Environment Committee. And on the floor, the House will consider a measure to up the speed limit to 75 mph in some places. The Senate will debate a bill that could allow mega-dumps for out-of-state trash, a political hot potato the McCrory administration now supports.

Gov. Pat McCrory will meet with legislators in the morning before attending a ribbon cutting in Greenville for a children's hospital at Vidant Medical Center and meeting with N.C. League of Municipality officials later in the day at the mansion.

McCRORY SIGNS RACIAL JUSTICE ACT: Talk about burying the lead -- Just before 6 p.m., the governor's office announced that he signed 56 bills Wednesday. Among them: the Racial Justice Act. It was tucked into the long list at the bottom, noted only by its bill number. From AP -- Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature Wednesday repealed a landmark law that had allowed convicted murderers to have their sentences reduced to life in prison if they could prove racial bias influenced the outcome of their cases. McCrory signed a repeal of the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which both proponents and critics say will restart the death penalty in a state that hasn’t executed an inmate since 2006.

***More on the Racial Justice Act, the GOPs latest political problem and McCrory's agenda below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: GOP fundraising, Rural Center face major questions

GOP ABANDONS PLEDGE FOR TAX REFORM: From Rob Christensen's column: Tax reform in North Carolina died last week. RIP. …The House has rolled out its plan, and the Senate has rolled out an alternative plan. Those plans focus almost exclusively on cutting corporate and personal income taxes, rather than revamping the 1930s tax code. So tax reform is dead. In its place, we have large tax cuts, the size and shape of which will be worked out in a House-Senate conference committee. Cutting taxes is in the Republican comfort zone. Reforming the tax code is not. Full story.

LOBBYING FIRM ACTED AS TILLIS, McCRORY FUNDRAISING CONDUIT: The giving by the sweepstakes industry also puts a spotlight on fundraising efforts organized by McGuireWoods. Multiple contributions from sweepstakes operators were often recorded on the same days, with the largest group coming on May 16, 2012, when the Tillis campaign tallied a total of $60,002 from 19 individuals. Days earlier, on May 10, McGuireWoods held a fundraiser at its Raleigh office attended by Payne and lobbyists from other organizations. Harry Kaplan, a McGuireWoods lobbyist, said he invited clients who were interested in meeting with Tillis to talk about the issues they represented. They could also make campaign contributions, which some did, he said.

***More on Tillis, McCrory campaign fundraising, the sweepstakes industry and questions clouding the N.C. Rural Center and top Republicans below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

UNC's Ross warns of 'sobering implications' for education in House budget

UNC President Tom Ross weighed in Friday on the House budget that passed this week, saying it has "sobering implications" for the university campuses.

"Across the country, state leaders from both parties are making strategic investments in their public universities," Ross told the UNC Board of Governors. "They understand that talent is the most valuable commodity in today's economic competition and they're gearing up to compete."

"Flash mob" plays catch on governor's lawn

A "flash mob" of liberal activists staged a game of catch on the State Capitol lawn on Thursday morning, poking fun at this week's gubernatorial baseball theme.

About enough people to field two baseball teams tossed balls back and forth for a while, drawing mild curiosity from State Capitol Police officers but no arrests.

Advocacy groups called out Gov. Pat McCrory for playing catch on Monday rather than meeting with a group of school children delivering petitions calling on the governor to support education.

On Wednesday, McCrory released a video he made congratulating N.C. State and UNC baseball teams for making it to the College World Series. In it, McCrory sports a baseball glove and ball in hand, and makes reference to the earlier controversy.

McCrory signs a whole lot of bills

Gov. Pat McCrory has writer’s cramp, or he should. He signed 39 bills on Wednesday.

His office is highlighting HB903, a bill related to transferring credits from community college to the UNC system; HB146, which requires the state Board of Education to teach cursive writing and memorizing multiplication tables; and SB129, which prohibits issuance of a certain kind of debt.

Bill sponsors joined the governor for the signings.

Update: BTW, here are the rest of those bills: HB 10, HB 25, HB 32, HB 114, HB 125, HB 142, HB 301, HB 315, HB 361, HB 368, HB 383, HB 384, HB 407, HB 410, HB 449, HB 480, HB 532, HB 581, HB 591, HB 610, HB 687, HB 710, HB 774, HB 788, HB 789, HB 813, HB 821, HB 829, SB 208, SB 210, SB 252, SB 279, SB 433, SB 460, SB 603 and SB 634.

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