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Morning Memo: NC's new brand; protests expected to swell

NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW BRAND: "North Carolina’s national brand may be changing – but not the way Gov. Pat McCrory intended when he talked during his campaign about the Tar Heel state undergoing an image makeover," writes columnist Rob Christensen. "… The new brand that McCrory seems to want is that North Carolina is more business-friendly. But since he took office in January, the state has been undergoing a brand change of a very different kind. The sharp rightward turn of the legislature and the Moral Monday protests have turned North Carolina into one of the nation’s top political spectacles. … The national coverage is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Unfortunately for North Carolina, it may also be the wrong kind of publicity." Read more here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night. The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools. The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May. Also back: Moral Monday demonstrations, which are expected to draw huge crowds after the Senate's approval of a major abortion bill.

***Get a complete roundup of political news from the extended holiday weekend below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, husband confirmed for Raleigh visit Sunday

UPDATED

As Dome reported last Sunday, former Arizona Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut and combat veteran Mark Kelly, will wrap up their seven-day, seven-state tour across the country in Raleigh on Sunday.

Details have been withheld until Friday night, and even now the precise location has not been publicly disclosed. Reporters will be given information once they are confirmed.

All that's known now is Giffords and Kelly will go shooting at a local sporting clay range in the morning, followed by a roundtable discussion with gun owners, and then a picnic with local members of their gun-control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions. The couple will meet with reporters after the roundtable.

Giffords and Kelly have targeted states to generate support for expanded background checks for gun purchases. The Washington Post reported that they are visiting states to thank congressional representatives for their position on the issue, or to put pressure on them to support the checks.

The couple is spreading the message that polling shows large majorities of Americans favor expanded background checks, regardless of party affiliation. Their group promotes Second Amendment rights but stronger laws to prevent gun violence.

Update: Paul Valone, president of the gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina, on Saturday afternoon chided the couple for keeping their itinerary secret.

He announced a game of "Where's Gabby?" and offered 100 rounds of semi-automatic weapon ammunition for free to the first person who figures out where the Raleigh shooting range is.

Gabby Giffords headed to Raleigh on Sunday

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband,former astronaut Mark Kelly will be in Raleigh Sunday as part of their week-long tour pushing for new gun safety laws.

No details of the time and place have yet been released.

Giffords was severely wounded in the headed two years ago by a deranged gunman who killed six of her constituents and wounded 12 others.

She and her husband have launched Americans for Responsible Solutions, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization and political action committee to push for new gun safety laws such as the Manchin-Toomey bill defeated in April that would have required more background checks for gun purchases.

Giffords and Kelly are visiting Nevada, Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio, New Hampshire,, and Maine as well as North Carolina.

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