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Morning Memo: Veto session scheduled; Rachel Maddow live from North Carolina

LAWMAKERS TO RETURN FOR VEOT SESSION: Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday called for a veto override session of the legislature for Sept. 3, to consider two bills dealing with the drug testing of welfare recipients and immigration. It was not immediately clear whether House Speaker Thom Tillis would ask the House to attempt to override the governor’s veto. But one of his lieutenants, Rep. Mike Hager said there were enough votes in the House to override the veto if Tillis wanted to move in that direction. Both bills passed with more than the three-fifths needed to override a veto.

“We got pretty good last year at overriding vetoes,” he added. “I think we got it down pat by now.” Last year, the Republican legislature voted to override three vetoes by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

RACHEL MADDOW PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON N.C. IN LIVE BROADCAST FROM ELIZABETH CITY: The MSNBC host broadcast from the docks at Groupers and put a focus on North Carolina’s new voting law. She also went on to discuss Art Pope’s role in the 2010 election See her entire segment here.

***More on the pending veto session and a N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Speaking in Raleigh, Colin Powell blasts North Carolina voting law

UPDATED: Moments after Gov. Pat McCrory left the stage, former Secretary of State Colin Powell took aim at North Carolina's new voting law Thursday, saying it hurts the Republican Party, punishes minority voters and makes it more difficult for everyone to vote.

"I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote," said Powell, a Republican, at the CEO Forum in Raleigh.

"It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs," Powell continued. "These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away."

The retired general served as the keynote speaker at the event and made his remarks moments after McCrory finished his remarks. His comments represent the most high-profile criticism of the Republican-crafted law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, cuts early voting days and makes it harder for students to vote.

Morning Memo: Dems eager to replace Kinnaird; GOP's barbs in Senate fight

FOUR CANDIDATES SEEKING KINNAIRD SENATE SEAT: State Rep. Valerie Foushee and three others announced Wednesday their intent to seek state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s District 23 seat. The other candidates for Kinnaird’s seat that emerged Wednesday were retiring Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton; author and educator Amy Tiemann, and former Alamance County Rep. Alice Bordsen. Read more on the candidates here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: The country's former top military officer and the head of an Internet giant are the main attractions at a gathering of North Carolina business executives that will draw Gov. Pat McCrory. The CEO Forum is scheduled for Thursday at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh. Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell is speaking along with Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers. McCrory will attend the event at 8 a.m.

***More North Carolina political news from the U.S. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to capitol@newsobserver.com.***

McCrory signs hospital transparency bill, state personnel changes

AP: Gov. Pat McCrory says a new law will help North Carolina consumers make better health care decisions and help his administration run state government more effectively.

McCrory said he signed into law Wednesday a bill that had been sitting on his desk since lawmakers adjourned late last month. He still must act on 34 bills by Sunday night or they'll become law without his signature.

The measure requires hospitals to make public their prices on 140 common services and procedures, which will be posted online. Hospitals also would be unable in some situations to place a lien on someone's house to collect unpaid bills.

The law also seeks to reduce the grievance process for state employees and exempts another 500 positions from the State Personnel Act and its job-protecting rules.

Advocacy group rallying opposition to potential Catawba casino

An advocacy group is urging its members to call Gov. Pat McCrory's office ask him to oppose a new tribal gaming casino in Cleveland County.

The N.C. Family Policy Council sent an "alert" Tuesday warning members about a potential Las Vegas-styled casino along Interstate 85 owned by the Catawba Indian Nation. John Rustin, the advocacy group's president, said the casino "would be devastating to the surrounding area."

Gov. McCrory targeting House Republicans to sustain veto

Gov. Pat McCrory is using Facebook to put pressure on 26 House Republicans to sustain his vetoes.

"Contact your representative, Susan Martin @ 919-715-3023 who represents Pitt county and tell her to sustain my vetoes of fiscally irresponsible & job-killing legislation: HB 392 & HB 786. Watch below. #NCPOL," reads a post from earlier this morning. The others follow the same format and link to a video of McCrory explaining his vetoes.

The direct targeting of lawmakers from his own party is a new tactic for McCrory and signals his frayed relationship with GOP legislators.

Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Three strikes for HHS secretary; NC unemployment now nation's 3rd worst

THREE STRIKES FOR SECRETARY WOS: The controversy about high salaries for two inexperienced aides at the Department of Health and Human Services is only the latest trouble for Secretary Aldona Wos. (See more on the story below.) It's the third major controversy at the agency in the eight months since Wos, a major Republican donor and former physcian, took the helm. In February, Wos hired a director for the agency's childrens division who never took the job amid a firestorm of criticism. And in May, Wos blamed the state's decision not to expand Medicaid on the state's Democratic insurance commissioner -- not the Republican legislature and her boss, Gov. Pat McCrory. The distractions for the McCrory administration are related to communications and policy -- the two areas the high-paid staffers are charged with managing.

THE BIG STORY -- N.C. UNEMPLOYMENT NOW 3rd WORST IN THE NATION: The unemployment rate in North Carolina inched higher in July, the first uptick in the closely watched economic indicator since January. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9 percent last month, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

Although the jobless rate was seven-tenths of a percentage point lower than it was a year ago, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is tied with Rhode Island for the third-worst in the nation. Only Illinois, at 9.2 percent, and Nevada, where the unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, have higher unemployment rates. It represents a fall from fifth worst just a month ago.

***More on the state's unemployment rate and the latest DHHS controversy below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: 'Moral Mondays' grow; McCrory defends pay hikes

’MORAL MONDAY’ PROTESTS EXPAND: Moral Monday, the North Carolina protest movement that comes to Charlotte on Monday afternoon, was organized to counter the policies of the Republican-controlled General Assembly.The protests, which have received national attention, are not only grounded in religion but expanding their reach into churches. Organizers say they seek to reclaim the language of political morality.

Protesters from the Charlotte area are to gather in Marshall Park at 5 p.m. Elsewhere in the state, similar protests are scheduled Monday in the Yancey County town of Burnsville and in coastal Manteo. Read more here.

GOV. HUNT TELLS DEMOCRATS TO DO MORE: Former Gov. Jim Hunt delivered a pep talk to grassroots leaders of the state’s beleaguered Democratic Party on Saturday night, where he emphasized the basics of winning elections. Hunt told the crowd at a reception named partly in his honor to appeal to independent voters, run good candidates and raise money. "We’re not exactly the party of money," Hunt said, "but we can do more than we’ve done."

***Hear more from the Democratic Party meeting and get the latest N.C. political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

N.C. growers seek veto override

The state’s agricultural industry is pushing for an override of the governor’s veto of an immigration bill that would have made it easier to use seasonal laborers.

The N.C. Farm Bureau said Friday it is working with legislative leaders to persuade members of the General Assembly to reconvene in less than two weeks for override votes. They say the matter is urgent because without an override there will be a shortage of workers, which will lead to rotting crops and then less produce in grocery stores.

Challenging the governor’s veto has traction with agricultural interests and with House Speaker Thom Tillis, both of whom say they are concerned about more than that single bill. Both blame inaction in Washington for failing to address the nation’s immigration issues. Tillis is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and is already talking about immigration.

By law, Gov. Pat McCrory has to reconvene the legislature to consider veto overrides within 40 days of adjournment, which falls on Sept. 4. The General Assembly will have to meet then or inform the governor the session would be unnecessary, which requires they send him a petition signed by a majority of both chambers by Aug. 25. If they do that, the legislature could also wait until next year’s short session to take up the override.

Read the full story here.

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