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Morning Memo: Democrats hit GOP on education in new ad campaign

SEE IT HERE FIRST: N.C. Democrats launch ad campaign hitting GOP on education: The headline "Republican leadership has failed teachers in North Carolina" is hitting newspapers across the state this week in full-page advertisements paid for by the N.C. Democratic Party. The ads target 17 legislative districts (eight Senate, nine House) and criticize Republicans for not increasing teacher pay, forcing class size increases, eliminating some teacher assistants, ending the back-to-school tax holiday, cutting money for textbooks and supplies, taking away the graduate school bonus for (future) teachers and allowing private school vouchers.

"We’re putting Gov. McCrory and Republican legislators on notice that their assault on public education is not going unnoticed," said Robert Dempsey, the party's executive director.

***See the ad and get a list of the targeted lawmakers below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Document(s):
AD.pdf

Morning Memo: Abortion bill back on agenda; McCrory's misfire at Obama

ABORTION BILL IS 'CHRISTMAS IN JULY': The abortion bill resurfaces for discussion in the House on Tuesday after a vocal protest against it a day earlier. (More on Monday's demonstrations below.) So we know what critics say about the abortion bill, but what about supporters? Christian Action League's Rev. Mark Creech is asking proponents to "pray for Christmas in July." On the group's website, he writes: "In all my days, I have never seen a bill so full of good content. I have shared with my friends that the legislation is a veritable Christmas tree of beautiful lights and ornaments representing life, justice and other righteous principles. The only thing missing is the crowning star of final passage and the governor’s signature. For those of us who believe in faith, family, and freedom, this bill is Christmas in July."

McCRORY'S MISFIRE AT OBAMA: Gov. Pat McCrory sought to deflect blame for North Carolina's decision to curtail jobless benefits by pointing the finger Monday at President Barack Obama's administration. The problem is he pointed in the wrong direction. (Read more below.)

***Click below for details about the controversial abortion bill and more North Carolina political news and analysis in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Hagan supports immigration bill, Burr against

HAGAN TO SUPPORT IMMIGRATION BILL: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday announced that she’ll vote for an immigration overhaul that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, saying it will help North Carolina’s economy and strengthen the nation’s border security. “I’m ready to support a common-sense bill that’s going to fix our broken immigration system so that everybody plays by the same rules today,” the first-term Democrat said. “After listening to a wide variety of stakeholders throughout North Carolina, it’s clear to me supporting bill is the right decision for North Carolina.”

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A couple hot-button measures are resurfacing at the state legislature Thursday. The Commonsense Consumption Act, an ALEC-sponsored bill to give food manufacturers immunity against obesity-related lawsuits, appears in the Senate judiciary committee at 10 a.m. The N.C. version of the bill also includes a "Big Gulp" provision to prevent cities from passing a ban on large-sized sodas. A Sharia law measure is off the agenda. On the floor, the House will take a final vote on a bill to privatize much of the state commerce department and require certain abortion-related education in middle school health classes. The Senate will consider a bill that would restrict the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, thwarting other state efforts to set tough rules on the issue.

Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a dinner hosted by a nonprofit organized to boost his agenda in Greensboro this evening, a day after he defended it against critics who say it represents pay-for-access for special interests. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to attend the dinner, which costs $1,000 for two tickets. Dr. Ben Carson, the latest conservative TV darling, will appear at a 6:30 p.m. event in Raleigh to benefit the Upper Room church’s school.

***More on Kay Hagan's immigration vote and her potential GOP rival Thom Tillis' campaign, along with SCOTUS reaction and Mel Watt's confirmation fight, all below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Legislature an embarrassment, big issues dominate post-crossover Jones Street

NEARLY HALF VOTERS CONSIDER SAY #NCGA CAUSING NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT: One of the more intriguing poll numbers in the latest monthly Public Policy Polling survey due out later today: 45 percent. That's the portion of voters who believe the N.C. General Assembly is causing the state "national embarrassment." The poll question comes after a number of hot-button legislative issues received national attention -- and ridicule. Another 31 percent don't think the state legislature is a blemish and another 24 percent are undecided. (More from poll below.)

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: No rest for the weary this week on Jones Street. The Senate appropriations committee meets at 8:30 to discuss its $20.6 billion state budget. Democrats will raise objections but no significant changes are expected. At the same time, the House Finance Committee will consider a major immigration bill that is drawing increasing fire from the ACLU and others concerned about Arizona-type provisions about stopping and detaining people who did not enter the country legally. At 11 a.m., the House Education Committee will get its first look at a new private school voucher bill. Senate and House floor calendars are light after crossover week's flurry, but the House will give final reading to a bill limiting tolling of existing highways.

Gov. Pat McCrory will meet with the Philippine ambassador at 8:45 a.m. in a private meeting and later attend a N.C. Department of Transportation luncheon. McCrory will speak to a group of under-45 CEOs as part of the southern chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization conference and travel to Charlotte this evening for a forum with the city's other current and former mayors.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo. Read more new exclusive PPP numbers below and get more insights into the state budget. ***

1369145279 Morning Memo: Legislature an embarrassment, big issues dominate post-crossover Jones Street The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Morning Memo: Money in politics, guns in bars

THE NAKED REALITY OF POLITICS: Much of politics is about money. But it's rare to see it so plainly stated in black and white: "We didn't give them money because we liked them," sweepstakes operator William George told the Associated Press. "We just knew they were powerful people up in Raleigh and they could get done what we wanted to get done. You give them your money and they're supposed to do what they say they're going to do." (More on the story below.)

TODAY IN POLITICS: The current State Board of Elections meets for the final time at 9 a.m. today before Gov. Pat McCrory's new appointees take office Wednesday. The board had planned to launch a formal investigation into the gambling money -- received by the governor, top GOP legislative leaders and some Democrats. But board members backed off the idea now that they are lame ducks.

AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a bill to limit pre-K programs, in part to children under the federal poverty line. The full House meets at 2 p.m. and will consider a controversial firearms bill to allow guns in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. The UNC system is also opposed because it allows guns in cars on college campuses. The Senate will meet at 2 p.m. On its calendar is a measure to require a parent to report a child missing after 24 hours -- it is named after Caylee Anthony. Gov. Pat McCrory is attending two feel-good events Tuesday in Charlotte, first a YMCA prayer breakfast and then a Wells Fargo "Reading Above Par" event.

***More on the sweepstakes money, arrests at the legislature and Jamie Hahn death investigation below in today's Dome Morning Memo -- the place for North Carolina political news and analysis.***

Clean energy group asks Cooper to review Duke Energy settlement

A Durham advocacy group has asked attorney general Roy Cooper to investigate whether Duke Energy and the N.C. Utilities Commission engaged in illegal “backroom deal-making” during talks to settle the Duke-Progress Energy merger probe.

Duke CEO Jim Rogers told the Observer this month that he negotiated the settlement terms, working with commission Chairman Edward Finley. The agreement, approved in December, ended an investigation into the firing of former Progress chief executive Bill Johnson to lead the combined companies.

N.C. WARN, a clean-energy group that has complained of unwarranted secrecy surrounding the merger, says the contact between Rogers and Finley apparently violated a state law against private communication between commissioners and the parties to a case.

Groups: McCrory's Duke Energy ties cloud judgment on Utilities Commission

UPDATED:A pair of advocacy groups that have long challenged power companies are urging Gov.-elect Pat McCrory to cede his constitutional powers to appoint regulators to the N.C. Utilities Commission.

N.C. WARN and the state branch of the AARP are concerned that McCrory, a former Duke Energy employee and ex-mayor of Charlotte, will stack the commission with utility-friendly appointees who will side with the Charlotte power company on rates and other key issues.

Their concern is that McCrory has vowed to name regulators who view their job as providing a customer service to the companies they regulate. That concern is exacerbated by the fact that the commission recently concluded a contentious 5-month investigation of Duke, which ended with a settlement that will restructure the company's executive ranks.

Morning Roundup: Meet McCrory's new environmental chief

The man Gov.-elect Pat McCrory appointed to run the state's environmental agency isn't convinced about global warming. And he’s anxious to move the needle back from what he sees as over-regulation toward what he promises will be a middle ground that protects the environment without hindering economic growth. Meet John Skvarla here.

More political news:

--President Obama cuts short his vacation with automatic budget cuts looming.

--More than 300 shipyard workers in North Carolina could stop loading and unloading cargo ships as of midnight Saturday, the result of stalled contract talks that threaten to idle more than 14,500 dockworkers at 15 of the nation’s major shipping ports.

Morning Roundup: Mental health deal in limbo, Mary Easley's pension doubles

Future treatment for as many as 3,000 Wake County people with mental illness remains in limbo as the county works to complete a partnership with UNC Health Care and the Alliance managed care organization. Full story here.

More political headlines from the weekend:

--N.C. State University has reached an out-of-court settlement with former First Lady Mary Easley over her abrupt firing three years ago in a deal that more than doubled her state pension payment, according to interviews and documents.

Morning Roundup: DNC security plan released, corporations give around ban

Portions of about a dozen uptown roads will be closed to traffic and parking for at least four days during the week of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, under a security plan released early Wednesday by federal authorities. Read the full plan here and more coverage here.

Other political news:

--Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software from Microsoft. Computers, printers and tech support from Hewlett-Packard. Printing and supplies worth $150,000 from Xerox. And as much as $1 million worth of office space from Duke Energy. Those sorts of donations from companies to the Democratic National Convention, known as in-kind contributions, are taking on added importance this year because organizers are not accepting corporate cash to stage the convention.

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