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Morning Roundup: Abortion, bad dogs and MetLife

Here's a quick look at what's making political news this morning in The N&O:

Abortion foes have found new avenues of challenging the procedure. Legislatures in North Carolina and other states are passing laws that make it more difficult to obtain abortions.

Use a pit bull, go to jail? It's not expected to go anywhere, but a bill introduced this week in the NC General Assembly would require criminal background checks for owning certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs and chows. That brought a quick rebuke from dog owners.

Emails released by the state show the behind-the-scenes scramble to recruit MetLife to North Carolina.

Morning Memo: McCrory closes Latino outreach office

North Carolina’s Latino advocates are voicing alarm following the governor’s decision to eliminate the state’s office for Latino affairs. The closing of the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was sudden and caught many by surprise. The move appears to have exacerbated the already tense relationship between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Latino community, including criticism over a driver’s license plan for young immigrants.

Advocates says it sends a message that McCrory and Raleigh conservatives are less concerned with the needs of the Latino community. Paradoxically, it comes at a time when issues of deep concerns, like immigration, are at the political forefront and Republicans nationally are trying to appear more welcoming to Latinos.

***Thanks for reading the Good Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. More on the Latino office and other big headlines below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory budget may emerge soon, men oppose 'nipple bill'

McCRORY BUDGET RELEASE NEXT WEEK? Top GOP lawmakers say Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to release his state budget plan next week. The governor's office is remaining mum. But budget details are leaking to lawmakers, who say McCrory's spending plan isn't like to include details of a major tax overhaul, such as corporate or personal income tax cuts, and instead it will assume the tax plan being negotiated privately by Republicans will be revenue neutral.

MEN OPPOSE NIPPLE BILL: Public Policy Polling will release more from its statewide voter survey later Friday. But here's a peak: nearly half of men -- 45 percent -- oppose the bill to prohibit women from barring their breasts and 34 percent support. Women are deadlocked at 38 percent on what is called the "nipple bill." (Insert stereotypical joke about men here.)

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. And read much more below.***

McCrory: North Carolina's 'very good business climate' lured MetLife

Gov. Pat McCrory told Fox Business what lured MetLife to North Carolina: "the great quality of life, a very good business climate and a great workforce."

The message is interesting for two reasons. 1) "Good business climate" was not the mantra of McCrory's campaign, in which he repeatedly said the state's brand is tarnished and massive tax breaks are needed to revive it. 2) McCrory didn't mention the $94 million in incentives that his commerce secretary said were key to the deal.

Commerce secretary defends use of incentives in MetLife deal

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker Tuesday sought to allay concerns about the timing of Mecklenburg County incentives for insurance giant MetLife, calling the incentives “crucial.”

Some Mecklenburg commissioners have suggested that the company knew it was coming to Charlotte before the board voted to approve $2 million in local incentives. “The process was ongoing until the end,” Decker told a Senate committee.

Morning Memo: Hagan hires campaign manager, GOP '14 field unsettled

HAGAN HIRES FORMER REID AIDE AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The 2014 U.S. Senate race is taking shape with Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan hiring Preston Elliott as her campaign manager. Elliott most recently served in the same role to help U.S. Sen. Jon Tester win re-election in Montana, one of the closely watched races of the 2012 campaign cycle. In 2010, Elliott worked as coordinated campaign director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his re-election effort, another high profile race. The big hire signals that Hagan expects a big fight in 2014. "He has a proven track record of success, and with his help and the help of North Carolinians of all walks of life, I expect to cross the finish line with a victory in November 2014," Hagan said in a statement.

WHO WILL HAGAN FACE?: A new Public Policy Polling survey -- set for release later Tuesday and obtained exclusively by Dome -- shows its a wide open race among Republican primary voters. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest leads the field with 18 percent, according ot the Democratic polling firm. PPP added Forest's name to the potential field for the first time this month and he still managed to outpace Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (13 percent) and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (12 percent). The only announced candidate, tea partier Greg Brannon, gets 4 percent and at least a quarter of voters weren't decided on any of the nine names PPP tested. (More from the poll below.)

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Much more Memo below.***

McCrory separates himself from MetLife incentives deal

As questions persist about the governor's office negotiations with MetLife, Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he remained at arms length in the effort to lure the insurance company's 2,600 jobs to North Carolina.

"My commerce secretary led that recruitment effort," the Republican said after an event Monday, according to a WRAL-TV video. "My first direct involvement with the company was a day or two before the announcement, where I called the CEO when they told me a basic agreement was agreed upon."

McCrory's remarks, five days after the big jobs announcement, are his first describing his role in the deal -- which is coming under scrutiny because the $94 million incentives package MetLife received was negotiated by the governor's former employer, Moore & Van Allen.

In the video, McCrory said he had no interaction with MetLife when he worked for the Charlotte law firm as a senior director of strategic initiatives. "Not all all," he said, shaking his head.

Morning Memo: Questions mount on MetLife incentives deal

FIVE DAYS LATER, McCRORY STILL SILENT ON ROLE IN METLIFE DEAL: Five days after the MetLife jobs announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory and the governor's office remains quiet on what role he played in luring the company even as questions mount. Consider this lead sentence from AP story Friday: "Gov. Pat McCrory avoided questions Friday about the state offering MetLife Inc. $94 million in tax breaks and other incentives to move thousands of jobs to North Carolina and using his former employer to help broker the deal." The Friday announcement was the second time in two days that McCrory dodged reporters' questions. The governor appears at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today for a 12:30 p.m. announcement. Will he break his silence?

QUESTIONS MOUNT ABOUT THE INCENTIVES: At the same time, Charlotte area officials are raising questions about whether the incentives were even necessary to lure the company to the city, where half the 2,600 jobs will be located. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after a press conference announcing the deal, county commissioners questioned whether MetLife knew it was coming to Charlotte before commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the incentives.

Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham said questions about the timing of the incentives vote started to enter her mind when news broke that the company had picked North Carolina and media events were arranged – only two days after the commissioners voted. Later, she learned that some MetLife executives had already been picking out schools and colleges for their children. “In my opinion, the deal was done when we first learned of it and voted for incentives,” Cotham, a Democrat, wrote in her first email to commissioners on Saturday.

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Read much more below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory in spotlight in MetLife deal

BIG JOBS DEAL PUTS McCRORY IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Charlotte law firm Moore & Van Allen, where Gov. Pat McCrory was employed until just days before taking office, helped the New York-based insurance company negotiate with state and local governments to receive more than $94 million in taxpayer-funded incentives in return for the promise to add more than 2,600 jobs in the next three years. The connection raises questions in the minds of Democrats about McCrory’s role in the deal and again shines light on his employment at the law firm, which also runs a lobbying practice in Raleigh. Republicans used similar concerns to reject a major economic development project under Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, citing how the company hired a Raleigh law firm that employed her son.

TODAY IN POLITICS: McCrory will tout the MetLife deal at another event in Charlotte Friday. The U.S. Labor Department reports the national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, a four year low. The full N.C. Mining and Energy Commission meets Friday as the debate about what to do with fracking waste remains unresolved and lawmakers are getting involved.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more on the MetLife deal and the political implications below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Have a good weekend and Go Heels!

Gov. McCrory uses big incentives to lure MetLife jobs

The insurance giant MetLife plans to add more than 2,600 high-paying jobs in Cary and Charlotte over the next three years after being awarded a state incentives package worth more than $94 million this morning. MetLife expects to invest $125.5 million as part of the project.

“We’re proud that a strong corporate partner like MetLife has decided to invest in North Carolina,” said Gov. Pat McCrory in a statement. “These jobs will complement our financial services sector in Charlotte and our high-tech hub in Wake County, two distinct sectors we want to expand.”

The state’s Economic Investment Committee approved an incentives package for the company at its meeting in Raleigh this morning. MetLife received a 12-year state Job Development Investment Grant worth as much as $87.3 million if it meets hiring and investment goals. MetLife also must retain the 143 employees it now has in Charlotte.

The company is also receiving millions in training credits and a $2 million grant from the One North Carolina fund. More here.

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