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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.

Decorate your tree with a statehouse ornament

Are you obsessed with everything that happens on Jones Street? How about the Legislative Building itself?

If it’s really special to you, consider buying a Christmas tree ornament depicting the home of your General Assembly. The N.C. Museum of History has designed just such an ornament in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the statehouse.

That anniversary comes up in a few weeks, marking the legislature’s move from the State Capitol on Union Square, where it had met since 1840, into the new digs for the 1963 session. It was designed by famed architect Edward Durrell Stone.

The history museum has been designing an annual ornament as part of a series since 1983, focusing on state buildings, symbols and places. This one, made in the U.S.A., depicts the building rendered in color on silver.

They’re selling it for $16. Go to the museum, or its website at

Christensen to give talk on Tar Heel political commercials on Sunday

On Sunday at 2 p.m, The N&O's Rob Christensen will give a talk at the N.C. Museum of History, "Tar Heel Political Commericals: Hide the Children.'' The free talk will take a look at the history of political commericals in North Carolina and will show ads dating back to 1984.

Getting a fix on N.C's election: A forum tonight at the N.C. Museum of History

Is Mitt Romney staging a comeback with his debate performance last night? Did Walter Dalton draw any blood in his debate? What are the prospects in the 7th district race between Mike McIntyre and David Rouzer? Will Debra Goldman be the next state auditor?

Those questions and more will be discussed tonight in a free panel discussion -- “North Carolina: Battleground State” at the N.C. Museum of History at 7 p.m.

Perdue will be lady in red

Plan to see Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue in plenty of red this weekend, not her traditional blue.

On Wednesday Perdue showed sketches of the red beaded ball gown she plans to wear to Friday’s inaugural ball and the red suit she’ll wear to the swearing-in ceremonies on Saturday, Samantha Thompson Smith reports.

Both pieces were created by dress designer Lynda Narron Bunn, who owns Lynda's Couture in Bailey.

For the first time, North Carolinians won't see a black tux on the governor at the inauguration. Perdue is the first female governor.

Bunn and Perdue have worked together for the past four years. Bunn made Perdue’s gown and suit for the last inaugural ceremonies in 2005 and later created all of the suits Perdue wore on the campaign trail.

Perdue says the gown, which is made from a beaded double-layer silk chiffon, is a favorite of hers. It has a number of stand-out features, including a sheer organza bodice with long sleeves, a heavily jeweled collar band and cuffs and a full apron in the back.

After the inaugural weekend, the dress will go to the N.C. Museum of History so it can eventually be put on display. 

A few other N.C. notable women

Digging deeper into history, Dome has found a few other notable N.C. women.

Along with the handful of Tar Heels inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the first women elected to various state offices, here are a few more worth noting, courtesy of the N.C. Museum of History.

FIRST ENGLISH CHILD: In 1587, Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the New World.

FIRST PROTEST: The 1774 Edenton Tea Party, in which 51 "patriotic ladies" announced their boycott of East Indian tea taxed by the British, was one of the first political activities by women in the U.S.

FIRST FIRST LADY: In 1809, Guilford County native Dolley Madison became the first First Lady with North Carolina ties when her husband, James, became the fourth president.

FIRST WOMEN'S COLLEGE: In 1838, Greensboro College became the first chartered college for women in North Carolina.

FIRST ATTORNEY: In 1878, Tabitha Ann Holton passed the state bar to become the first licensed female attorney in the South.

FIRST DOCTOR: In 1887, Dr. Annie Lowrie Alexander, originally of Mecklenburg County, became the state's first licensed female doctor.

FIRST TAR HEEL: In 1898, Sallie Walker Stockard became the first woman to graduate from the University of North Carolina.

What does the Cultural Resources Secretary do?

Leads cultural outreach and historical preservation programs around the state.

Leads cultural outreach and historical preservation programs around the state.

As head of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the governor-appointed secretary oversees the State Historic Preservation Office, the State Library, state museums of history and art and the State Archives.

Other divisions include the State Records Center, the Office of State Archeology, the Historical Publications Section, the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony, seven state history museums and 27 historic sites.

It is one of 10 Cabinet-level positions in North Carolina.

The department typically has the smallest budget in the Cabinet. In 2007-08, its $82.1 million budget was $26 million less than the Department of Administration, the next smallest budget.

In 2008, the department of 706 employees. The secretary's salary was $117,142.

The Cultural Resources department was created in 1971 under the administration of Gov. Bob Scott, although its Offices of Archives and History dates to 1903.

North Carolina was the first state to raise an arts and culture department to Cabinet level. Six of the seven secretaries since the post was created have been women: Grace Rohrer, Sara Hodgkins, Patric Dorsey, Betty Ray McCain, Libba Evans and current Secretary Linda Carlisle.

Starting in May of 2008, Evans went on unpaid leave to attend to unspecified personal business and never returned. That led some legislators to suggest abolishing the department and putting some of its divisions under the responsibility of the Commerce secretary.

The department is outlined in general statutes under Article 2 of G.S. 143B.

History museum to look at governors

With North Carolina experiencing a hot governor’s race, the N.C. Museum of History is beginning an exhibit looking at nearly 300 years of Tar Heel governors.

The exhibit, which starts Oct. 25, includes artifacts, photographs and portraits of past governors, Rob Christensen reports.

Among the events surrounding the exhibit will a panel discussion with three former North Carolina governors — Jim Holshouser, Jim Martin and Jim Hunt. Former Gov. Bob Scott, who has been struggling with health issues,  does not plan to attend.

The panel discussion will be held Oct. 24th and be moderated by Bill Friday, the former president of the University of North Carolina system.

Today — Oct. 16 — is the last day to register for the evening. But the event will later be rebroadcast on UNC-TV. For more informaiton call 919-807-7900.

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