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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.

Libertarian gov candidate shred marriage license to protest Amendment One

Barbara Howe, the Libertarian candidate for governor, and her husband Tom, will shred their marriage license this morning in front of the Legislative Building to protest passage of Amendment One.

“I am just heart sick that the people of North Carolina have written discrimination into the Constitution,'' Howe said in a statement. “Constitutions are to limit government, not people. I'll be working on repealing this abomination.''

Senate candidate to join pro marijuana rally

Libertarian Senate candidate Mike Beitler is scheduled to address a rally Saturday in Raleigh that is lobbying for legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, according to organizers.

The N.C. Cannabis Patients Network is planning a rally at 10 a.m. on Halifax Mall to push for use of marijuana to help relieve pain. Some 17 states now allow it, and a bill has previously been introduced in the legislature.

The N.C. Cannabis Patients Network has endorsed Beitler, a business professor in Greensboro.

“We must decriminalize marijuana,” Beitler said in a statement on his website. “The war on marijuana has wasted billions of dollars and destroyed the lives of many young people.

“Keeping marijuana illegal tragically keeps profits high for drug cartels,” Beitler added. “Our current drug policy is bankrupting the government, overcrowding our prisons, and rewarding drug cartels with big profits.”

Confession doubted

I DID IT: A dying inmate is having a hard time convincing the right people he committed a Raleigh murder. Craig Taylor says he, and not Greg Taylor (no relation) killed a woman. Greg Taylor's case recently went before the Innocence Inquiry Commission, which found reason to believe Greg Taylor shouldn't be locked up, partly because Craig Taylor knew specific details about the murder.

But Craig Taylor has confessed to other murders and officials say he is confessing to murders because he is dying. (N&O)

THIRD PARTIES GET ANOTHER SHOT: The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a state law that forces third political parties to collect tens of thousands of signatures to get on North Carolina's ballot. But the court's split decision means the case will likely be heard again. (AP)

A LITTLE BIT MORE: Duke Energy has pared down a rate hike request in a compromise with regulators. If the N.C. Utilities Commission agrees, a 7 percent hike would be phased in over two years. (Char-O)

Betts: Straight ticket boosts all parties

Jack Betts says Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians benefited from straight-ticket voting.

After looking at the results of the November election, the Charlotte Observer columnist writes that all three parties drew more straight-ticket ballots than their party representation would suggest.

Democrats represent 46 percent of registered voters, but drew 58.8 percent of straight ticket votes. Republicans represent 32 percent of voters, but drew 40.4 percent of straight ticket votes.  

This is not quite the same as saying that all those straight-party Democratic ballots were cast by Democrats, or that all those Republican straight-party ballots were cast by Republicans. There may have been a number of straight-ticket ballots cast by unaffiliated voters, who make up 22 percent of the state's registered voters. And of course there might have been some crossover straight tickets, too. 

He also notes that the 19,054 Libertarian straight-ticket ballots far outnumbere the 3,683 registered Libertarian voters.

Not the droids

Say What?
"Unless you have Jedi powers, you're not going to be able to control the way other people vote."
— Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger, urging voters to cast ballots for their hopes and not worry about other voters might do, at a debate on UNC-TV on Sept. 24, 2008.

WSOC invites Munger to debate

Mike Munger will be at a gubernatorial debate after all.

The Libertarian nominee has been invited by WSOC-TV and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters to participate in a live televised debate in October.

Despite helping gather thousands of signatures to get the Libertarian Party recognized and garnering between two and five percent in polls, Munger has not been invited to the four other debates agreed to by Democrat Beverly Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory.

Munger is a Duke University professor best known for his comical critiques of the other candidates and their positions.

The debate is scheduled for Oct. 15. It is the last scheduled debate agreed to by the other two campaigns.

In mid-March, Munger said that he had been asked to appear at the debate, but he did not receive an official invitation until this week.

More than 1,000 attend Raleigh rally

More than 1,000 people attended a conservative rally in Raleigh today.

After taking free buses from as far as Wilmington and Asheville, attendees listened to beach music and ate barbecue and fried chicken this afternoon while waiting for former Sen. Bob Dole and Republican gubernatorial nominee Pat McCrory to speak.

Twenty tents shaded the crowd from 97-degree heat and showcased conservative and libertarian groups on the grassy Halifax Mall just north of the General Assembly.

Among those represented: The N.C. Republican Party, the N.C. Libertarian Party, Americans for Prosperity, the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, the Pope Center on Higher Education, Freedom Works, the Wake County Taxpayers Union, the National Taxpayers Union, the Republican Liberty Caucus, Americans for Tax Reform, the N.C. Property Rights Coalition, the Fair Annexation Coalition, Concerned Women for America, N.C. Fair Tax and WPTF radio.

Attendance was free, but donations of $5 to $10 were accepted.

"These are not wealthy people; these are grassroots people," said Americans for Prosperity state director Dallas Woodhouse.

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