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Some North Carolina lawmakers defer pay, Renee Ellmers refuses

UPDATE: Renee Ellmers reversed course and will decline her salary during shutdown. Read the latest here.

As some North Carolina congressional lawmakers defer pay during the shutdown, GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers is refusing to do so -- and her remarks are drawing the attention of an advocacy group.

"The thing of it is, I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line," Ellmers told WTVD, the Raleigh ABC station, Wednesday.

More than 70 congressional lawmakers are voluntarily not taking a salary during the partial government shutdown. Democrat David Price of Chapel Hill is donating his check to charity and Republican Robert Pittenger is returning it to the U.S. Treasury. Republicans George Holding, Virginia Foxx and Mark Meadows are not accepting their pay.

GOP alleges irregularities with Progress NC

The state Republican Party Tuesday asked the Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to investigate a Democratic group's fund raising practices.

The state GOP is questioning whether Progress NC, a 501 © (3)Democratic leaning group that has been highly critical of the Republican legislature, is acting properly.

State GOP Chairman Claude Pope said Progress is claiming to be tax deductible organization, even though it has not been granted tax exempt status by the IRS and its state charitable license expired May 15th.

"Progress NC doesn't pay taxes because they claim to be a tax exempt organization," Claude Pope, the state GOP chairman said in a statement. "The problem is, they have not been granted federal tax except status.''

Michael Weisel, an attorney for Progress NC said the group, which was started about a year ago, has applied for tax exempt status from the IRS, a process that typically takes 12-36 months. He noted that Renew North Carolina Foundation, the 501(© (4) non profit that is running TV ads boosting Republican Gov. Pat McCrory also has not received tax exempt status from the IRS.

Weisel said that Progress Action, a 501© (4) organization, has been granted tax status by the IRS.

He said GOP asserts that Progress NC's charitable license has expired is incorrect.

Wiesel said the "charitable solicitation license is current in and place.''

Morning Memo: GOP moves to limit early voting as budget debate begins

REPUBLICANS MOVE TO CURTAIL EARLY VOTING: Republicans are moving in the final days of the legislative session to cut early voting by a week, limit Sunday voting and curtail some voter registration efforts in a sweeping bill that is expected to debut Tuesday. The measure also may advance the state's presidential primary to a week after South Carolina's first-in-the-South contest. The last-minute election measures will appear in a Senate bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. (Check Dome for more on the bill later today.)

EDUCATION FOCUS OF BUDGET DEBATE: The N.C. Association of Educators is threatening to sue over the tenure provisions in the state budget. State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said for the first time in her 30-year career, she fears for the future of public education. “I am truly worried about the ongoing starvation of our public schools,” she said. “I see other states making a commitment to public education. In our state I see in this budget we’re cutting teachers, we’re cutting teacher assistants, we’re cutting instructional support.”

With education as the focus, the House and Senate will take budget votes Tuesday and Wednesday as they race toward the end of session.

***More on the state budget and other North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: NC House prepared for all-nighter

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Got your Red Bull handy? It promises to be a long day folks.

The House budget, having survived the Appropriations Committee mostly intact, goes to the Finance Committee this morning. The plan laid out by House Speaker Thom Tillis calls for the bill to be taken up on the House floor later today. Tillis told lawmakers there would be time for a lengthy debate and that — if the first vote comes late in the evening — he'll keep them there after midnight to have the final vote after midnight. The upside? They'll get the rest of Thursday off.

Welcome to Wednesday and Dome's Morning Memo.

Governor throws ball, catches controversy

Gov. Pat McCrory decided Monday to throw the baseball around with one of his security guards, and even that became grist for controversy.

A Democratic group, called Progress NC, delivered 16,000 petitions to the governor's office on Monday criticizing the proposed cuts to education. The delegation, led by former Congressman Bob Etheridge and including a group of children, was told by an aide that he was busy in a meeting until 5 p.m.

But a short time after, one of the group took a picture of McCrory throwing the baseball around as his chief of staff, Thomas Stith looked on. The group said the photo was taken about 4:42 pm. The group soon distributed the picture with the headline:” Pat McCrory Throws Kids A Spit Ball. Governor Ducks Out of Capitol Office for A Game of Catch To Avoid Facing Children Petitioning Their Government.''

Morning Memo: Pray-in targets lawmakers, Foxx to join Obama administration

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AT LEGISLATURE: Clergy and students will participate in an act of civil disobedience Monday at the Legislative Building "in response to the collective acts of the legislature," said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP. The action, from 5 p.m.- 6 p.m., will be a "form of a pray-in," Barber said. The House convenes at 4 p.m., the Senate at 7 p.m. The NAACP has opposed the legislative actions reducing unemployment benefits, state House approval of photo voter ID, and other legislative measures.

FOXX TO TAKE OBAMA POST: President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Mayor Anthony Foxx to be secretary of transportation, a White House official said Sunday on the condition of anonymity. The nomination of Foxx, whose city hosted last year’s Democratic National Convention, would make him the only African-American selected for a Cabinet opening in Obama’s second term. (More below.)

***Good morning. Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- a full roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below. ***

Morning Memo: Goodwin promises access for campaign cash

GOODWIN ADVERTISES ACCESS FOR CAMPAIGN CASH: Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is soliciting campaign donors to join his "Commissioner's Club," promising private dinners to high-level contributors and emailed "personal updates" on his agency's work. "Be ahead of your friends and colleagues with exclusive updates -- join the Commissioner's Club TODAY," a campaign email states. (Click below for more.)

TODAY IN POLITICS:The Council of State meets this morning at 9 a.m. to handle a number of property matters. Gov. Pat McCrory's office said he won't take questions, as is customary, after the meeting. House and Senate committees are full of action now that the deadline for the majority of bills has passed and the machinations begin. (See more below). The Legislative Black Caucus will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. to criticize "tea party Republicans" who want to change election laws. McCrory will meet privately with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer later this morning.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo. Read more on Goodwin's latest fundraising effort, get all the N.C. political headlines and more below. Send tips and news to***

Fa,la,la,la,la, end tax cuts for the top 2 percent?

This doesn't strike us as exactly as in keeping with the Christmas spirit. But a liberal group plans to deliver a Christmas Card and sing Christmas carols with a a message at the office of Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers's office in Dunn at noon today.

The group, including Progress N.C. is lobbying Ellmers to support a deal to end the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent to avoid the fiscal cliff.

'Fix the Debt' campaign heads to NC, prompts outrcy

A Washington-based coalition called Fix the Debt – which advocates lower taxes alongside a more obvious goal of putting a dent in the $16.2 trillion-plus national debt – is launching a state-level organization on Tuesday in Raleigh.

The group has been something of a lightning rod for criticism from liberal advocates, and local groups have taken notice and responded by planning a protest and slamming the group's ties to corporate and wealthy donors.

Amendment "aye" vote turns to "no"

Democratic Rep. Jim Crawford said at a public forum he will vote against the constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage he voted to put on the ballot because "it goes too far."

Crawford, who lives in Granville County, was criticized for his vote to put the amendment on the May 8 ballot at a candidate forum last month.

He's under fire from liberal groups for his amendment and budget votes. Progress NC Action is holding a demonstration outside the Oxford Courthouse tomorrow to call attention to what they called Crawford's "flip-flopping."

Crawford is in a primary with incumbent Rep. Winkie Wilkins.

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