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Morning Memo: Education, voter ID dominate agenda; McCrory nears 100 days

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A controversial voter ID measure gets a double billing Wednesday, appearing in a 1 p.m. House Election Committe meeting for discussion only and a 4 p.m. public hearing. A lawyer from the Indiana Secretary of State's Office and the N.C. NAACP's William Barber will present at the earlier meeting. The House will also unveil a major education bill at a 2 p.m. press conference, just hours after a Senate panel considers President Pro Tem Phil Berger's own overhaul plan at a 10 a.m.

Senate committees will also consider bills to increase the speed limit on some highways to 75 mph and provide tax money to the Carolina Panthers for stadium renovations. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a private reception for the N.C. Homebuilders Association at 5 p.m. The group is advancing two controversial measures this session to limit local control of inspections and design standards for homes that are angering counties and cities. Wonder how Mayor Pat would have reacted to the legislation?

McCRORY'S FIRST 100 DAYS: The governor is nearing the 100-day mark of his term -- a benchmark that means little but will generate a media extravaganza. McCrory is sitting down with various media outlets this week, about 10 minutes at a time, to discuss his accomplishments. WRAL-TV is the first with an interview. Check it out here. 

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. More North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory concerned about payday lending, GOP activist hired as lobbyist

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The GOP kerfuffle about sweeping clean state board appointees continues in a House Rules Committee meeting this morning (read more about it below). Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development Life Science Conference. Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and a controversial measure about control of the Charlotte airport is on the calendar. The House starts at 1 p.m. to consider a bill about using lottery funds for digital education, as the governor pitched in his State of the State address.

McCRORY VOICES CONCERN ABOUT PAYDAY LENDING BILL: The Republican governor is expressing skepticism about a bill to legalize payday lending -- one of the most moneyed efforts this legislative session. From AP: "McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said Wednesday the governor has objections to a Senate bill that would reinstitute a class of loans of up to $500 for which lenders could charge fees reaching $75. Industry representatives say the government-regulated loans provide a needed credit option for people with nowhere else to go. Feldman says this and similar legislation don't align with McCrory's objective to lessen the financial burden of families. She says high-risk loans put families in danger of incurring debt."

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the tipsheet for N.C. politics. Send tips and news to And read much more below.***

Top state historian, cultural resources official retires

Jeffrey Crow, one of the state's chief historians, has retired this month.

Crow was deputy secretary of the Office of of Archives and History in the state Department of Cultural Resources. Prior to that, Crow was the administrator of the division's Historical Publications Section and editor in chief of the North Carolina Historical Review (1982-95.) Crow worked for the department for 38 years.

House panel rejects state attraction cuts -- again

A House panel decided against closing any state parks or historical sites, reinforcing a recommendation from a subcommittee not to pursue a plan to cut $2 million from state attractions.

The subcommittee decided to conduct further studies about ways to save money by combining management and reducing hours at state historical sites and parks, rejecting an legislative oversight report that found cost savings. 

Evans is back

Libba Evans, who was on an extended leave for months as former Gov. Mike Easley's cultural resources secretary, has returned to the public eye.

Evans took at least six months off last year to tend to personal issues while her deputy ran the department. The Winston Salem Journal reports that Evans has been promoting her new company, which produces interactive versions of children's stories for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch.

When she was away from work, Evans did not respond to repeated requests for an interview from The News & Observer. She told the Journal that she had to tend to personal matters.

Evans said that she took the leave of absence to focus on her business and family in Winston-Salem.

"I needed to come home and make sure everything was OK," Evans said.

Evans began her leave in May 2008, the same month she accompanied former first lady Mary Easley on an expensive junket to Russia and Estonia.

Evans told the Journal that she has not been subpoenaed in connection with the federal investigation into Easley.

Evans said she wanted to leave her time in Raleigh in the past.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's over," she said.

New book out on Wilmington race riot

The state has published a new book on the 1898 Wilmington race riot. It is called, not surprisingly, "A Day of Blood: The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot."

The book, by LeRae Umfleet, is being published by the Historical Publications Section of the N.C. Office of Archives and History and the African American Heritage Commission. Umfleet is chief of collections management for the state Department of Cultural Resources.

Umfleet is scheduled to talk about the book at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 18, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

Correction: Earlier post had incorrect date for reading at Quail Ridge Books.

Isaac Hunter's Tavern reborn

The 18th century watering hole partly responsible for Raleigh's selection as state capital may return to life, at least in name.

The New Raleigh web site reports that what used to be the Fayetteville Street Tavern, just south of the capitol, is being renovated with plans to reopen as Isaac Hunter's Oak City Tavern. The pub already has a web site.

In 1787, state leaders partial to the tavern's refreshments decided that the capital had to be established within a ten mile radius. Opposition prevented any action being taken until 1792, when a commission was named to pick the exact site for the new statehouse within the land around the tavern, according to the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

The name has been resuscitated over the years, including at a Cameron Village restaurant that opened in 1998 and currently one of the foremost political blogs in the state, run by WUNC radio's Laura Leslie.

3 layoffs likely at Cultural Resources

Three employees at the Department of Cultural Resources got notices Friday that coming budget cuts have put their jobs in jeopardy.

Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle would not identify the positions that were on the cut list, but said it was "highly likely, but not absolute" that those people would lose their jobs.

The budget is not final. Proposals approved by the Senate and House would cut more than 17 jobs from the department, most of them vacant.

Employees be notified of a possible lay off at least 30 days in advance, Carlisle said.

"Obviously," she said, "this was not done capriciously."

Cuts: N.C. history programs

Two history programs aimed at kids could be cut.

In recent years, the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources has run an annual "History Bowl" tournament for fourth- and eighth-graders.

Starting with local competitions, the teams of students answer questions on North Carolina history, such as how many state-supported Indian tribes there are or who Isaac Hunter was.

The number of students has dropped from 230 in 2003 to 189 in 2008, said spokesman Joe Newberry. By comparison, the Tar Heel Junior Historians, a scholastic competition, and the national History Day celebration were drawing more interest.

The annual competition cost $17,194.

In addition, the department has had a full-time staffer developing N.C. ECHO, a Web site that features links to state historical collections of interest to K-12 students and curious Web surfers. That position paid $67,232.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has proposed ending state support for the History Bowl and eliminating the Web developer, though the site would remain online.

What else has been cut?

State agencies are cutting back in small ways too.

As noted previously, Gov. Beverly Perdue asked Cabinet-level agencies to trim their spending. A list of the cuts includes some interesting items:

* The Department of Administration has stopped printing most publications.

* The Department of Cultural Resources is training employees online and turning off computers at night.

* The Department of Revenue is encouraging carpooling.

Some of these cutbacks actually have positive benefits. For example, environmentalists might support putting more state publications online rather than printing them, while carpooling and turning off computers saves gas and electricity.

Fiscal conservatives, meantime, support reduced spending on travel and other items.

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