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17 arrested outside N.C. Senate chamber

Saying they could stay silent no longer, a group of protesters shouted “we fight” outside the N.C. Senate chamber in an act of civil disobedience that led to 17 arrests.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver warned the protesters to disperse from the second floor rotunda three times before arresting them minutes before the Senate convened a 7 p.m. session.

The protest was led by N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber, who was among those arrested, along with Duke University professor Tim Tyson. Weaver said the people arrested will likely face charges of disorderly conduct, second degree trespass and violation of building rules.

In the rotunda, Barber condemned the Republican legislature’s agenda for hurting the poor and minorities, saying the voter ID measure approved by the House last week prompted the escalation. “We cannot stand for that silently,” Barber said.

Etheridge: GOP power grab 'pretty frightening'

A legislative reunion in honor of the statehouse's 50th birthday brought former lawmakers out of the woodwork. And the difference between the gray-haired Democrats and the Republican young guns was visually apparent.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge, a Democrat who served two-terms in the N.C. House, said the legislature of the past is nothing like the current one under Republican control. "A lot of folks who were here today remember the days when you would come to this building -- you may argue and we had Democrats and Republicans -- but we were doing things to make a difference to move North Carolina forward," he said. "And what I saw in the paper the other day, the (legislative) proposals give me reason to be very concerned."

Morning Memo: GOP exerts control, Democratic chairman spits flames

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a constitutional amendment to stregthen private property rights and restrict eminent domain. A Senate committee will take up the House unemployment overhaul On the floor, the Senate is expected to consider a controversial GOP power grab to sweep clean Democratic appointments to boards and commissions. And the House will vote on its permanent rules for the legislative session.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE STATEHOUSE: The House will honor the 50th anniversary of the legislative building with a resolution Wednesday. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo, the best source for news and analysis about North Carolina politics. Much more below.***

At new legislature, less reading and more meeting

In the constant jockeying for space in the Legislative Building, books lost out to talk.

The library in the Legislative Building is no more. The former library, which straddles the House and Senate sides of the building, has been divided and turned into a conference room on the Senate side and into an office and conference room for Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County on the House side. Samuelson has a new position within the GOP House caucus as conference leader.

Decorate your tree with a statehouse ornament

Are you obsessed with everything that happens on Jones Street? How about the Legislative Building itself?

If it’s really special to you, consider buying a Christmas tree ornament depicting the home of your General Assembly. The N.C. Museum of History has designed just such an ornament in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the statehouse.

That anniversary comes up in a few weeks, marking the legislature’s move from the State Capitol on Union Square, where it had met since 1840, into the new digs for the 1963 session. It was designed by famed architect Edward Durrell Stone.

The history museum has been designing an annual ornament as part of a series since 1983, focusing on state buildings, symbols and places. This one, made in the U.S.A., depicts the building rendered in color on silver.

They’re selling it for $16. Go to the museum, or its website at http://www.ncmuseumofhistoryshop.com/ornament-series.html.

Morning Roundup: Rule says visitors not welcome on 2nd floor at statehouse

At the statehouse, North Carolina's people are prohibited from visiting the second floor - the floor where lobbyists lobby and lawmakers make laws. The rule is posted on a concrete wall in the lobby, written in roughly 12-point font, behind glass and a black frame, tucked in a corner behind a leafy potted tree.

The language is nearly 25 years old, and few lawmakers knew it even existed until Thursday, when House Speaker Thom Tillis' office invoked it - for first time in anyone's memory - to clear a group of demonstrators from the hall outside his office. Read more here.

In other news:

-- Democrat Brad Miller says he won't run for governor and Republican Pat McCrory declared in a Raleigh event he's halfway to his goal. And Republicans rallied against President Barack Obama in Charlotte.

Fade to gray

Outgoing Senate leader Marc Basnight has moved out of his former legislative office, but you can still see reminders of his occupancy in the distinctive fade patterns on the wallpaper.

Shadows in the shapes of the State seal, his pictures and plaques, and the furniture that used to be pressed against the walls are starkly visible as blue marks on wallpaper that is now faded to gray.

Senate offices are getting makeovers in preparation for new occupants. Incoming Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, has the new corner office.

"The day after the election night, Marc said, "Call Berger and let him know we'll replace the wallpaper," said Basnight's chief of staff Amy Fulk.

Workers this week are replacing carpet and wallpaper in Basnight's and former Sen. R.C. Soles' offices. New carper is going into Sen. Charlie Dannelly's old office.

Walls are being moved around in the Legislative Office Building so Democrats won't have to move into two of the cubbyholes Republicans once used.
The total cost is about $34,000. Democrats authorized the spending.

Update:

Jim Blaine, Berger's chief of staff, said Republicans didn't want to stick Democrats in the two holes GOP members have had to use.

"We weren't going to turn around and do to other people what we complained about," he said.

Minority leader Martin Nesbitt of Asheville said $34,000 didn't seem an unreasonable cost.

"I am appreciative they were able to get rid of those two offices they had," Nesbitt said. They didn't have windows and "were so small you couldn't shoehorn people in there."

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