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Morning Memo: McCrory abortion promise challenged

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 7 p.m. for what some lawmakers hope is the final week of the legislative session. It seems unlikely, even if it wraps by Sunday, because of the bevy of issues remaining on the table: fracking, voter ID, taxes, budget, landfills, abortion, guns, a regulatory overhaul, commerce bill, immigration, etc.

The House will get started Monday, debating the so-called RECLAIM NC Act, an immigration bill that splits the loyalties of immigration advocate groups. A bill about riding ATVs on roads is also on the calendar. The Senate will consider a handful of measures, including a bill to force Durham to clear hurdles for the contentious 751 development. All this takes place amid the backdrop of the 11th "Moral Monday" demonstration, which starts about 5 p.m.

McCRORY'S HOMETOWN PAPER SAYS HE 'BREAKS HIS PROMISE ON ABORTION': The Charlotte Observer issued a scathing editorial in reaction to McCrory saying he would sign the abortion bill: "McCrory should have stood firm and vetoed it. But backed into a corner politically, trying to stay in the good favor of the extreme conservatives he has deferred to since taking office, he caved. Now, he says he will sign the House bill if it reaches his desk.

"Too bad. This was a moment when McCrory could have redeemed himself and showed up as the moderate governor we thought we were getting when he was elected, the person we recognized from his years as Charlotte’s mayor. Instead McCrory broke a promise. And by doing so, he showed us that though he may be governor in name, he’s clearly not in charge." Read more here.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Many more N.C. political headlines below.***

McCrory endorses House plan on Dix

Gov. Pat McCrory announced his support Thursday for the compromise version of a bill to renegotiate Raleigh’s lease on the Dorothea Dix property.

McCrory said he wants to work with Raleigh to help create a destination park while ensuring that the state’s needs – such as an office complex on the Dix land – are still met. “We’re trying to work out our differences through dialogue and consensus,” McCrory said in a news conference with Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

McCrory is throwing his weight behind a substitute measure that passed the House judiciary committee bill Wednesday.

Morning Memo: A new Dix deal, fallout from Brawley letter

A NEW DIX DEAL: Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will hold a joint news conference this morning to discuss the Dorothea Dix lease. A state House committee approved a new version of a bill Wednesday that would revoke Raleigh’s disputed lease on the Dorothea Dix property near downtown. The compromise bill comes with a sweetener that has the support of city leaders and the governor’s office.

But the question is whether the Senate will go along. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Spruce Pine Republican, said the Senate remains committed to its version of the bill. "As we've clearly seen, the lease was entered into by the state illegally, it is substantially different than what even the Council of State had approved, and it's in the bad interest of the state," he said. "If they need to start, we'll start from scratch. But you can't begin on a foundation that's that weak."

GOP LAWMAKERS REACT TO BRAWLEY LETTER: “If you have a disagreement, that's not how one handles it and I'm saddened," said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican. "We don't need distractions." Other Republican lawmakers refused to talk about it. "I don't have anything to say," said House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and top GOP leader, said she was surprised by the letter read on the floor. "I thought it was an inappropriate use of the floor by Rep. Brawley." If anything, Samuelson said, "I think it will help bring us together more because it doesn't represent the majority of the caucus."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- congrats to the NCGA team on the big win against South Carolina last night. More North Carolina political news below. ***

With Dix property an issue, Wake delegation meeting Monday should be hot

Expect an earful about the Dix property deal on Monday when the Wake County House and Senate delegation holds an open meeting.

The delegation meeting, set for 4 p.m., was moved to a larger venue, Room 643, of the Legislative Office Building because of the expected large turnout.

Among those sending out twitter feeds urging people to attend are Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane saying “support Dix Park, wear green, come early to Wake Delegation Mtg. Monday.''

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted to revoke a lease for the Dix property signed by outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue.

Perdue makes ceremonial splash with Dix lease signing

Gov. Bev Perdue and the Raleigh mayor signed a lease Friday giving the keys for the Dorothea Dix Hospital property to the city, the final step in a decade-long, controversial effort to preserve the 325-acre property on the edge of downtown.

The outgoing Democratic governor signed the document with ceremonial flourish in the old House chamber using 10 pens and an antique, hand-press stamp to emboss the document.

“We understand that preservation of God’s best resources, like Dix park, is part of the common good,” Perdue said, later quoting President Teddy Roosevelt, a passionate conservationist. “I’m proud of this for all the people of the state.”

McFarlane will chair urban mayors group

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will chair the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a bipartisan group representing the mayors of the state’s 28 largest cities, The N&O's Matt Garfield reports.

The panel was founded by Gov.-elect Pat McCrory during his tenure as mayor of Charlotte.

The post gives McFarlane a visible statewide role on issues facing North Carolina's urban centers, particularly economic development, taxes, transportation and public safety.

Senate leader is looking to terminate just-approved Dix deal

Moments after the Council of State approved the Dix deal, a Republican legislative leader pledged to undo it. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said he is evaluating legal options to terminate the lease.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that a majority of the Council of State caved into political pressure at the expense of good sense,” he said in a statement issued by his office. "The Senate will begin evaluating legal options to terminate this ill-conceived lease and reclaim this land on behalf of its real owners: the people of North Carolina.”

The state still owns the land, regardless of what Berger suggested. And its unclear if other Republicans would support him. House Speaker Thom Tillis has not yet weighed in on the decision, nor has Gov.-elect Pat McCrory.

Raleigh mayor endorses Obama

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane endorsed President Barack Obama on Tuesday, overlooking the site of where Raleigh's new transit hub will be built.

U. S. Surgeon General in Raleigh

The U.S. Surgeon General is in Raleigh tomorrow as part of the Obama administration's post-State of the Union state visits.

Dr. Regina Benjamin will meet with 20 area business leaders as part of a White House Business Council roundtable.

Among those attending are Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Dr. Linda Butler, chief medical officer at Rex Healthcare.

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