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Morning Memo: Pray-in targets lawmakers, Foxx to join Obama administration

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AT LEGISLATURE: Clergy and students will participate in an act of civil disobedience Monday at the Legislative Building "in response to the collective acts of the legislature," said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP. The action, from 5 p.m.- 6 p.m., will be a "form of a pray-in," Barber said. The House convenes at 4 p.m., the Senate at 7 p.m. The NAACP has opposed the legislative actions reducing unemployment benefits, state House approval of photo voter ID, and other legislative measures.

FOXX TO TAKE OBAMA POST: President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Mayor Anthony Foxx to be secretary of transportation, a White House official said Sunday on the condition of anonymity. The nomination of Foxx, whose city hosted last year’s Democratic National Convention, would make him the only African-American selected for a Cabinet opening in Obama’s second term. (More below.)

***Good morning. Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- a full roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below. ***

Morning Memo: Medical marijuana, topless rallies, possums on today's legislative agenda

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Bring the Doritos and the duct tape for the House Rules Committee meeting Wednesday. The powerful panel will consider a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal use and another aimed at topless rallies in Asheville by women seeking gender equity. (The committe chairman recently suggested women could use duct tape to get around the law.) On the more serious side, a House committee will consider a measure to repeal the estate tax, even though top Senate Republicans are not interested in the issue as part of their tax proposal. The Senate Rules Committee considers the possum bill. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m.

ANN McCRORY'S INAUGURAL GOWN GOES TO MUSEUM: From AP -- North Carolina first lady Ann McCrory is turning over her inaugural gown to the N.C. Museum of History, which will include it in an exhibition about governors and their spouses. Ann McCrory's gown will be on display Wednesday evening during an event for History Museum associates. After that, it will be featured in the exhibit "Leading the State: North Carolina's Governors," which ends April 28. During the event Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory will speak briefly with the N.C. Museum of History Benefactors Circle and the Gold Quill Society.

Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo, a daily political tipsheet for North Carolina. Read much more below.

Morning Roundup: Auto insurers prepare for big push at General Assembly

As the legislative session approaches, interest groups are gearing up for a fight. A divided auto insurance industry will try again next year to change a unique regulatory system in North Carolina, which enjoys some of the lowest rates in the country. Read more here.

More political headlines below:

-- A former top Republican lawmaker faces new federal charges, including tax evasion, in connection with an alleged scheme to launder money from a government loan program to enrich himself and close associates.

--Advocates for injured workers say the state needs a safety net to catch vulnerable workers. They want state leaders to create a fund to pay for lost wages and medical bills quickly so these workers aren’t left destitute while their employers try to pay the claim.

Morning Roundup: DNC adds Emanuel, Kerry to speaker list

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, are among eight prominent Democrats who were added to the roster of speakers Monday for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Also speaking: California Attorney General Kamala Harris; Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who hosted the party's 2008 convention as Denver mayor; former Virginia Gov.Tim Kaine, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year; Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Read more here.

More politics below.

Weekend Roundup: Ghost workers, Walmart moms, Ayn Rand and a holy war

In construction projects, some workers are treated them like ghosts, paid under the table and never acknowledged. A News & Observer review of state Industrial Commission decisions, in which arbitrators sort through workers’ compensation claims, shows the practice is common and has penetrated other industries.

But as honest businesses have struggled to compete, North Carolina officials have barely paid attention. Read the first installment in the Ghost Workers series, as well as stories about tax dodging companies and hear a worker's story.

Much more politics below:

--In his column, Rob Christensen describes how a local focus group sees the 2012 election: Watching a group of Walmart Moms discuss the presidential election last week, shed some light on why North Carolina is regarded as a toss up state.

--A holy war is engulfing the N.C. statehouse ministry for lawmakers, a $1.1 million operation.

--Even before GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney picked U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Ayn Rand was enjoying an unusual boom in university classes, particularly in North Carolina, thanks to tens of millions of dollars in grants from a Winston-Salem-based bank.

Morning Roundup: State tells businesses to pay up for workers' compensation

Business owners snaked down a dim hallway in the state Industrial Commission’s headquarters Thursday, awaiting stern orders for failing to pay workers hurt on the job. It was an unprecedented day at the Industrial Commission, a little-known state agency that handles disputed workers’ compensation claims when people get hurt on the job. 

Following a News & Observer investigation, commission officials are dusting off opinions rendered years ago and demanding payment. In the coming months, hundreds of employers will be called to hearings to defend themselves and to explain how they will pay. More here.

More headlines:

--Former staffers have testified this week that John Edwards’ extramarital relationship was not such a well-kept secret. More Day 9 trial coverage: Bryan Huffman, 47, funneled checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to political aide Andrew Young.

Gov. Perdue demands swift action on workers' compensation system problems

Gov. Bev Perdue said Tuesday that she is demanding swift action be taken to fix the problem of tens of thousands of employers going without workers compensation insurance. 

Perdue, who has been publicly silent since The News & Observer reported the problem Sunday, said she expects Industrial Commission Chairwoman Pamela Young to do whatever needs to be done to crack down on employers breaking the law by skimping on workers compensation. "I read with the same pain that you did about what might be happening to our workers and what has happened to our workers," Perdue said. "I've sent word, I want it fixed and I want it fixed very quickly."

Morning Roundup: Perdue expands on fracking remarks

News 14 Carolina's daily political news show debuted Monday evening with an interview with Gov. Bev Perdue.

On Capital Tonight, Perdue clarified her recent remarks on shale gas drilling, saying it must be heavily regulated and move slowly, and rehashed the a litany of controversial issues, such as the midnight legislative session, a sales tax increase and voter ID. She also says to expect her budget proposal later this month and talked about her clout going forward. See the interview here.

More headlines:

--State lawmakers and major candidate are looking for changes at the N.C. Industrial Commission after a News & Observer story revealed problems in the workers' compensation system. Read more here.

--The congressional candidates in the 9th District Republican primary squared off in a tea party debate. Read here.

Morning Roundup: Democrats focus on McCrory, not each other

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison spoke to nearly 200 members of the Young Democrats of North Carolina at their state convention at the Blake Hotel. They did little to differentiate themselves but kept the focus on the likely Republican nominee instead. Read full story here

In other news:

--Tens of thousands of North Carolina businesses are putting their employees at risk by failing to buy workers’ compensation insurance, a violation of the law that’s driving some injured workers to destitution and businesses into bankruptcy.

Though the state has the power to crack down on these businesses, it doesn’t act until a worker is hurt and left without a paycheck and with mounting medical bills. The state Industrial Commission rarely enforces penalties, and efforts to collect money for health care can drag on for years. Read the full investigation here.

-In his column, Rob Christensen recounts Charles Brantley Aycock roles in North Carolina politics. Read here

On the Budget: Doug Berger

Doug BergerSen. Doug Berger
Youngsville Democrat
Third Term

What two things would you cut in the state budget?  He said there could be savings in merging worker safety programs in the Industrial Commission and the state Department of Labor.

He also said there was a lot of duplication in education programs, such as anti-smoking efforts, in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Are there any taxes you would be in favor of increasing? He said additional revenue could be found in removing the sales tax cap on the purchase of automobiles.

— Rob Christensen 

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