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Morning Memo: As storm approaches, House set for major tax vote

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: As a tropical storm hits Raleigh, the House will meet in its first full Friday session this year to debate a tax bill that represents one of the most expansive policy changes in decades. At the same time, appropriation subcommittees will meet to roll out the House budget, meeting before and after session. The Senate adjourned until Monday. The House action precedes what is expected to be a busy time next week in Raleigh with budget and taxes, among dozens of other bills, moving quickly as the legislature nears adjournment toward the end of the month. Top GOP lawmakers will rush from the statehouse to Charlotte for the state Republican Party convention. Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a reception at the convention this evening.

NEW NUMBERS SHOW TAX BILLS AFFECTS: The median North Carolina family would get a modest tax break while wealthy taxpayers may see a significant cut under a sweeping bill primed for a landmark House vote Friday. (Read more below.)

***Special Friday Dome Morning Memo edition. Read more about the tax plan on the House floor below and a recap from President Barack Obama's visit.***

On the stand, LaRoque says he was Tillis' 'right hand man,' denies stealing

Update: The case has gone to a jury in the federal courthouse in New Bern. Jurors will return on Thursday to deliberate.

Former Republican state Rep. Stephen LaRoque took the stand in his defense Tuesday to admit he made mistakes but did not steal from the charities that received federal grant money. Sarah Ovaska, whose investigation prompted LaRoque's indictment, filed this dispatch for N.C. Policy Watch:

"On the stand Tuesday, LaRoque said he didn’t report all of his generous terms of his salary to auditors, accountants and the IRS but instead kept that money in East Carolina Development Company’s accounts with the assumption that he could withdraw it whenever he wanted. ... LaRoque was questioned by both his own defense attorney Joe Cheshire and federal prosecutors Dennis Duffy. Under questioning from Cheshire, LaRoque said he bought his wife expensive jewelry and replica Faberge eggs because, “I love spoiling my wife.” Prosecutors contend he wrote himself large checks from the non-profit in order to pay for that jewelry. ...

"On the July day he was indicted, LaRoque called up the former head of the USDA rural lending program he participated in and said that he (LaRoque) could become the North Carolina head of the USDA office if Mitt Romney won the 2012 election.

Morning Memo: North Carolina as a model for the national GOP?

N.C. AS A MODEL FOR THE NATIONAL GOP? For most Republicans, November was grim. But in North Carolina it was a happier story. “North Carolina could be a model for ‘red state’ resurgence,” says Marc Rotterman, a GOP strategist from Raleigh.

North Carolina Republicans will showcase their performance this week to the Republican National Committee, which starts its three-day winter meeting Wednesday at the Westin in uptown. A presentation scheduled for Thursday is called “Success in N.C.: A Blueprint for the Future.” But how much of that blueprint can be replicated is debatable.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Click below to read more.***

The most-clicked Dome posts of 2012 show N.C. in national spotlight

What made the biggest splash on Dome in 2012? The top 5 stories -- in terms of reader clicks --reflect how North Carolina played a major role in the national political scene and the Washington-driven penchant for little news bits that speak to a larger narrative. It doesn't necessarily reflect the biggest news of the political year, but what generated interest in the blogosphere.

Click below to see the top 5.

Democratic convention makes NBC's top political story list

NBC News ranks the Democratic convention in Charlotte at the No. 2 political story in 2012 -- sitting behind only Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remark.

The reason from the story: "This year was another reminder that political conventions do matter in presidential contests. After the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. -- which featured well-received speeches by First Lady Michelle Obama, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, former President Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama -- the Dem ticket got a noticeable bump in state and national polls. ...

Romney will pick up NC Electoral College votes in Dec. 17 ceremony

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will officially receive North Carolina's Electoral College votes when electors prepare Certificates of Votes in a Dec. 17 ceremony at the Capitol Building in downtown Raleigh.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who oversees the process, announced the plans on Wednesday.

Electors will convene in the Old Hall of the House of Representatives at noon.

Voters on Election Day determined by a popular vote determined that electors nominated by the state Republican Party will cast the official 15 ballots for the state.

GOP representatives will cast their ballots and prepare Certificates of Vote for president and vice president of the United States.

Everything that happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie shared a tender moment last week at the Republican Governors conference in Las Vegas, according to a story in today's New York Times.

Morning Roundup: 5 reasons why Obama lost N.C.; McCrory's new challenge

President Barack Obama almost ran the table Tuesday night when it came to battleground states. The lone exception: North Carolina.

Of a dozen competitive states, it was the only one that went from Democratic blue in 2008 to Republican red this year. Why didn’t Obama carry the Tar Heel State? Read five reasons here and see a map of results here.

More political headlines:

--Pat McCrory on Thursday will set foot in the Capitol for the first time as governor-elect. A block north, he will see a major challenge facing his administration: the N.C. General Assembly. 

--The 7th Congressional campaign and the lieutenant governor's race are headed to overtime. A recount looms.

One thing Nate Silver got wrong: Wake County

One thing Nate Silver got wrong on election night: Wake County.

"Almost all of Mr. Romney’s advantage can be explained by one county, Wake County, in North Carolina’s Research Triangle," wrote Nate Silver, the New York Times' superstar statistician, at 9:59 p.m. Tuesday.

The problem: Silver apparently didn't notice that the Wake County Board of Elections still hadn't posted early voting results hours after the polls closed. 

Morning Roundup: Republicans win big in North Carolina

Election Night revealed major victories for Republicans in North Carolina. Republicans won the presidential, congressional delegation, governor, lieutenant governor, N.C. Supreme Court races -- as well as took a supermajority in the state House and Senate. All together it represents a conservative shift in N.C. politics, writes Rob Christensen.

Here's a wrap on the coverage:

--President Barack Obama wins re-election. Democrats keep U.S. Senate, House remains GOP. The challenge awaiting Obama.

--Mitt Romney won North Carolina. N.C.'s congressional delegation turns deep red. Congressman Mike McIntyre holds narrow edge, recount next. U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers wins easy. Election photo gallery.

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