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Tax bill costs N.C. Chamber prominent member

Carolinas HealthCare System, the huge health care organization centered in Charlotte, has withdrawn its membership in the N.C. Chamber over the chamber’s support of a Senate tax reform proposal, a system spokesman confirmed Friday to the Insider's Patrick Gannon.

Kevin McCarthy didn’t provide further details but did say in an email that the move was “related to the Chamber’s support of the tax reform legislation.” Carolinas HealthCare System, according to its website, operates more than three dozen hospitals in North and South Carolina and serves patients at more than 900 care locations, including physician practices, emergency departments, outpatients surgery centers, pharmacies, laboratories, imaging centers and other facilities. The system employs about 60,000 people.

National news photographers group opposes bill outlawing undercover investigations

The National Press Photographers Association is among the dozens of organizations opposed to the state Senate bill that would outlaw undercover investigations of businesses.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the association, on May 14 wrote to the Senate Rules Committee members that the group is concerned the bill “abridges the First Amendment rights of citizens and journalists by creating a prior restraint without due process upon otherwise protected forms of speech and expression.”

Morning Memo: UNC-CH gets new chancellor; McHenry won't challenge Hagan

UNC-CHAPEL HILL TO GET FIRST WOMAN CHANCELLOR: As first reported by The News & Observer, UNC system officials will name Carol Folt, the interim president of Dartmouth College, as the next chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Folt, 61, would be the first woman to lead the campus in Chapel Hill, where the 29,000-member student body is 58 percent female. She will succeed Holden Thorp, who is stepping down by July 1 to become provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Full story.

McHENRY WON'T CHALLENGE HAGAN: N.C. Congressman Patrick McHenry took his name out of the crowded field of potential challengers to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who faces re-election in 2014. Polls put McHenry in the top half of Republicans. "I'm grateful for the good numbers, but I think I've got a better opportunity to make a difference here in the House," McHenry told the Mountain Xpress in Asheville. "I want to end the distraction about this potential Senate run so I can get back and focus on the work that I need to be doing to help get this economy going."

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Much more N.C political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory promises big changes; Democrats hit Ellmers

GOV. MCCRORY PROMISES BIG CHANGES COMING: Days after releasing a modest state budget and weeks after a tepid State of the State address, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is promsing big things. "Now we're moving into policy," he told a Chamber crowd Wednesday. The News-Record hits the highlights of what we should expect: "McCrory said the state Department of Transportation will be “revamping” how it finances and distributes money. ... McCrory said he’ll have “major announcements on Medicaid reform” next week, and that his administration is “completely revamping” the state’s commerce department. ... He said his tax plan should be ready within weeks and reaffirmed a desire to cut income and corporate tax rates to the lower levels of neighboring states. ... He said major announcements are coming on the state’s job recruitment efforts at the N.C. Department of Commerce, which new director Sharon Decker said last week may privatize many of its functions."

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. to hear a Mecklenburg property tax measure. The House meets at noon to hear a bill to repeal taxpayer funded judicial elections and another bill that favors Blue Cross Blue Shield. At the Capitol, McCrory and Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan will announce at 10 a.m. the new Highway Patrol commander, Alcohol Law Enforcement director and State Capitol Police chief at a swearing-in ceremony.

Also on the political calendar: Mayors Against Illegal Guns is promoting a day of action to push its background-check legislation; a group of area university and college professors host a 5 p.m. forum at Duke University titled, "Save Our State: Scholars Speak Out on North Carolina's New Direction"; and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears at Guilford College for a 7:30 p.m. event with former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, hosted by PBS's Gwen Ifill. This is likely Bush's his first visit to the state since the release of his book and open talk about running for president in 2016.

***Good morning! Happy "Friday" to state employees with tomorrow's holiday. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for North Carolina political news. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. More headlines below.***

Morning Memo: Another big day at the statehouse, gambling money purge continues

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Another big day at the legislature as the legislative session nears the half-way mark and the bill filing deadline. 10 a.m.: The Senate Education Committee considers a bill to take charter school oversight authority away from the state's Department of Public Instruction and loosen requirements on the schools. Noon: House Public Utilities considers bill to stifle the state's consumer advocacy group. 1 p.m.: House Elections Committee will discuss repeal of campaign finance matching money for candidates, a measure included in the governor's budget. The committee sent a notice that the voter ID measure is on hold temporarily so it can consider other legislation, a reversal from what lawmakers planned. At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee will begin talk about taxes with discussion of a bill to reduce the burden on businesses but no votes are expected. 2 p.m.: The Carolina Panthers bill is on the House calendar. The Senate convenes simultaneously with no major bills on the desk.

Today, Gov. Pat McCrory sticks to his comfort zone for another address to another business group, this one is the N.C. Chamber's annual conference in Greensboro. Later in the day, he'll meet privately with the N.C. Sheriff's Association.

GAMBING MONEY PURGE CONTINUES: As the Morning Memo reported Tuesday, McCrory forfeited campaign contributions from a second sweepstakes company executive charged in an gambling ring. And as AP found, the purge is likely to continue: McCrory received another $8,000 in October from John Patrick Fannin and his wife, who live in Little River, South Carolina, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. Fannin is also among the sweepstakes operators indicted by Florida prosecutors in the Allied Veteran's case. (A McCrory spokeswoman) said McCrory's campaign will review those donations, too.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory to talk higher ed, lawmakers to approve Medicaid bill

GOV. McCRORY TO TALK HIGHER ED: Weeks after he stuck his foot in his mouth, Gov. Pat McCrory will make a speech about higher education and the role of innovation in the university economic growth. The Republican governor made controversial comments about changing the higher education funding formula to reflect job output from colleges, not how many students enroll, and he also suggested the state shouldn't subsidize liberal arts classes like gender studies. The noon speech is at N.C. State.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House and Senate leaders appear ready to agree on a bill to block the expansion of Medcaid to 500,000 North Carolinians. The conference report is on the calendar for concurrence and then would go to the governor. But the topless bill is no longer on the calendar. On Monday, Republicans sent it back to committee. Buncombe Rep. Tim Moffitt told AP the delay would give time for consultations with Senate lawmakers. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will hold a call this morning to discuss the ramifications of the federal budget impasse on North Carolina.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo, get more political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: Who is McCrory? We still don't know

McCRORY REITERATES CAMPAIGN THEMES: In his first State of the State address, Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been in office six weeks, offered the broad outline of a legislative agenda that includes lower income tax rates, a revamped education system that uses technology in the classroom and a streamlined government that makes customer service its mission. “Achieving these goals will not be easy. ... But we will do it. We must do it,” said McCrory, who entered through the 11-foot golden doors into the House chamber. Republican lawmakers gathered for the joint legislative session frequently interrupted the 45-minute speech – the first by a GOP governor in 20 years – with applause and even hoots and hollers, giving the speech a pep rally feel at moments.

WHO IS McCRORY? WE STILL DON'T KNOW: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s public image has yet to come into sharp focus during his first weeks in office, even as he presented his program Monday night to a joint session of the legislature, columnist Rob Christensen writes. Is he Charlotte Pat, the centrist mayor of North Carolina’s largest city who campaigned as someone able to work across party lines? Or is he more in line with the deep-seated conservatism that dominates the legislature and much of the Southern GOP? “The public hasn’t formed a really hard impression of Gov. McCrory yet,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at N.C. State University. “He certainly campaigned as a moderate, pragmatic-oriented, problem-solving executive-type who understands the importance of government-business partnerships.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the State of the State edition. More analysis of the governor's speech below and a preview of today in politics.

Pat McCrory plays stand up comic, mocks his new city

Pat McCrory, don't quit your new day job. The governor-elect started his speech at the Economic Forecast Forum on Wednesday playing the part of stand up comedian but bumbled the jokes. (Listen to the audio below.)

He walked to the podium with a list hitting at the Capital City -- fitting with Charlotte residents thinking that their city is really the center of the state's universe, if not the entire Eastern Seaboard.

The setup: Since being elected, McCrory said he's "learning the Raleigh ways." ("Because I'm an outsider," he explained, trying to perpetuate his campaign mantra.)

His first Raleigh joke: "The definition of an elevator in a state government building really means take the stairs," he said to mixed laughter.


Super PAC money in Supreme Court race passes $1.3 million

The super PAC formed to re-elect Justice Paul Newby to the state Supreme Court has spent $1.3 million on the intentionally corny “banjo” TV ad promoting the incumbent, newly released records show. And the records provide the first glimpse of who is backing the independent campaign.

The N.C. Judicial Coalition – comprised of key figures in North Carolina conservative politics – racked up that amount just between Oct. 11 and Oct. 23, according to reports just filed with the state Board of Elections. Previously, it had only been known that the PAC, known as an independent expenditure committee, had spent more than $800,000 on TV ads.

Chamber of Commerce likes Berger's ed plan

The N.C. Chamber of Commerce likes the education plan Senate leader Phil Berger outlined a few days ago.

The bill would get rid of teacher tenure, give districts money to award teachers merit pay, and keep kids in third grade until they learn to read. The plan tracks with the Chamber's "Education Vision Plan," in that it offers a streamlined way for people to move from other careers into teaching, the chamber said.

"The North Carolina Chamber is committed to working with state leaders to position North Carolina as the leading state in talent development," said Chamber president and CEO Lew Ebert. 

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