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Morning Memo: NCGA studies Colo. school choice; DHHS execs see pay bump

NCGA STAFF EXAMINES COLORADO SCHOOL CHOICE: Three employees of the General Assembly went to Douglas County, Colo., for nearly a week in June to examine that county’s school funding model and determine the feasibility of trying something similar in North Carolina.

The Douglas County school district, the third largest in Colorado, is known for its emphasis on school choice and has pursued major – and often controversial – education reforms in recent years. Read more here.

***Get a full wrap on North Carolina political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

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.***

Nonprofit backing Pat McCrory rebrands, plans first big-dollar event

UPDATED:The private nonprofit formed to advance Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's agenda is newly reorganized and poised to hold its first big-dollar member retreat next week at a swanky Greensboro resort.

The June 27-28 event at the Grandover Resort opens with a dinner and exclusive forum featuring McCrory and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley. The minimum price for two tickets to the Thursday night activities is $1,000. The Friday agenda includes policy briefings and roundtable discussion with McCrory and other civic and business leaders, according to a fundraising invitation.

It costs $10,000 for two to attend the entire two-day event and benefits the Renew North Carolina Foundation, an entity created by key allies to the governor formerly known as the Foundation for North Carolina, which hosted its own inaugural ball. About 100 to 150 people are expected to attend, organizers said.

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate in Raleigh for fundraiser

South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen will be in Raleigh on Monday for a political fundraiser.

The event will be held at the home of state Sen. Josh Stein.

“Vincent came withing a hair of defeating Gov. Nikki Haley in their last election and with our help, he can and will win this race,” Stein writes. “A Democratic victory in the South Carolina governor's race will help build momentum for much needed change here in North Carolina in 2014 and 2016.''

The price of the event ranges from $100 to $250 per person.

Haley campaigned several times last year for Republican candidate Pat McCrory including once in Apex.

McCrory to Obama: thanks for dinner, no thanks on drilling

Gov. Pat McCrory used his few minutes of air time this morning on Fox & Friends to criticize President Barack Obama for not giving him and the governors of South Carolina and Virginia the go-ahead for off-shore drilling.

McCrory to meet with governors of Va and SC on offshore drilling

Gov. Pat McCrory said he plans to go Washington next week to meet with the governors of Virginia and South Carolina to discuss forming an Outer Continental Shelf coalition to discuss off shore drilling for oil and gas.

McCrory said he plans to meet with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and South Carolina Nikki Haley to discuss such issues as revenue sharing agreements with the federal government for future drilling rights.

“North Carolina has to get into the energy business,” McCrory told the Emerging Issues Forum in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday. “We are going to do it safely. We are going to get into it in an environmentally sound way.''

“We can either sit on the sidelines like the governors of the past 10 years or take proactive measures and get North Carolina in the energy business,” he said.

Pat McCrory's campaign cleared in elections complaint

Pat McCrory's campaign did not violate campaign finance laws when it came to disclosing trips to the state by big GOP luminaries, a state investigation found.

Democrat Walter Dalton's campaign alleged that a flight taken by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley to a McCrory campaign event was not a corporate contribution. Donors Ralph and Linda Huff reimbursed the plan's owner for the flight, the State Board of Elections reported Thursday.

Morning Roundup: McCrory guarded about his stance on healthcare exchanges

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory remains guarded about what he intends to do after Gov. Bev Perdue's decision to set up a state-federal health exchange. In a statement Thursday, he said Perdue's decision gives him flexibility. Other Republican leaders blasted Perdue's decision. 

McCrory said he would talk to other Republican governors Friday. His campaign buddy S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley rejected a state exchange Thursday. More details here.

More political headlines:

--Erskine Bowles is reportedly saying -- again -- he would turn down any offer to become the next U.S. Treasury secretary, according to at least two media reports Thursday.

Morning Roundup: N.C. Democrats lost in wilderness, Parker may seek to stay

For the first time in more than a century, the once-proud party of Jim Hunt and Terry Sanford, Luther Hodges and O. Max Gardner has been banished to the back benches of North Carolina state government.

The state Democratic Party also has been in turmoil since last spring, after allegations of sexual harassment. State Party chairman David Parker was criticized for his handling of the affair, but ignored pressure to resign. As a result, he became a liability as a spokesman and fundraiser.

Still, Parker has privately told some he may seek another term, and party leaders fear he may have the committee votes to keep the job. Read more here.

More political headlines:

Dalton files complaint against McCrory; Republican rejects 'desperate' charges

Democrat Walter Dalton's campaign filed a campaign finance complaint Wednesday alleging Pat McCrory didn't properly pay for campaign flights and whether it amounted to an illegal corporate contribution.

The Republican's campaign outright rejected the claims and provided documentation that it believes supports its claim. State elections chief Gary Bartlett said his agency received the complaint but the agency doesn't have time to investigate until after next week's election.

The Dalton complaint focuses on private flights for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to North Carolina for separate McCrory campaign events. 

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