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Morning Memo: Expect a late night at legislature as bills fly fast

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The action starts early Tuesday and will likely stretch past 10 p.m. again. The House and Senate plan to convene a skeletal session just before 10 a.m. to read in committee reports, then recess until 2 p.m. House Speaker Thom Tillis said the session will go until 5:15 p.m. or so before a dinner recess for committee meetings. The chamber will reconvene at 7 p.m. and go late. The Senate isn't expected to stay as long but its calendar is getting crowded. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events.

McCRORY'S OFFICE WON'T RELEASE DAILY SCHEDULE ANYMORE: The governor's Communications Director Kim Genardo is changing the office's policy of releasing a daily calendar. Genardo said if there is no event scheduled, she won't send out a notice stating as much, meaning some days will have no notice to the governor's schedule. McCrory pledged to release a daily schedule during the gubernatorial campaign as he bashed his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, for taking a "secret" trip to Pennsylvania to study fracking rigs. Republicans jumped on McCrory's Democratic opponent for not pledging to do the same. “Everyone knew where I was as mayor,” McCrory said a year ago. “My records were open."

***A busy week means lots of news below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send more news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ****

Another 49 arrested at legislature, total nears 100

Nearly 200 protesters crowded inside the Legislative Building early Monday evening, singing, chanting and echoing many of the same concerns that demonstrators have for the past three Mondays.

As members of the state House of Representatives tended to business, North Carolinians dissatisfied with tax plans, education policies, health care proposals, welfare cuts, environmental deregulation and new voting policies grew louder and louder. General Assembly police used bullhorns to tell the protesters to quiet down. “You have five minutes to leave,” an officer called out to the demonstrators gathered in the second-floor rotunda.

The crowd, diverse in age and backgrounds, was in Raleigh to take part in a growing protest movement organized by the state NAACP and others to highlight widening concerns about the impact of political initiatives coming out of the Republican-led General Assembly and governor’s mansion.

Forty-nine women and men were arrested, zip-ties binding their hands as they were walked onto a bus which took them as a group to the Wake County detention center on Hammond Road for processing. The week before, 30 people were arrested, and the week before that there were 17 arrests.

--Anne Blythe, staff writer

Groups push for legislation to help poor

Advocacy groups for the poor and the state AFL-CIO are pushing state legislators to take action to help unemployed workers and ease the impact of a new law that will significantly reduce jobless benefits.

The groups held a press briefing Monday morning to promote four bills that have been introduced in the legislature – none of which have been voted out of committee so far. Moreover, just one of the bills lists a Republican as a primary sponsor, a major negative given that both the House and Senate are controlled by the GOP.

MaryBe McMillan of the state AFL-CIO said that the “most urgent” of the bills, HB 922, would push back implementation of the state’s new system of unemployment benefits from July 1 to Jan. 1, 2014. More from the presser here.

More protests, and possibly more arrests, expected at legislature

The North Carolina NAACP plans to risk arrests at the General Assembly with its third consecutive week of protests, AP reports. What the Rev. William Barber is now calling "Moral Mondays" will continue following back-to-back weeks of protests resulting in nearly 50 arrests.

Thirty people were arrested last Monday, a week after 17 protesters were taken into custody. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other activists say the Republican majorities in the legislature are backing a regressive agenda on social programs, voting rights, education and tax policy. The civil rights groups and others say the GOP actions disproportionately hurt the poor and minorities. Barber won't say how long protests will continue. He says they're a part of a wider strategy that includes legal action and political organizing.

Morning Memo: Crossover week begins at #NCGA; Ben Carson to visit Raleigh

Welcome to Crossover Week on Jones Street. Think the action’s been fast so far? Well, hold onto our elephant ears, this week lawmakers will be shoveling as many bills as possible through committee and out to their floors for a vote to meet a Thursday deadline dubbed crossover.

The House and Senate rules say that bills that don’t raise or spend money or propose amendments to the state constitution must pass either the House or Senate by Thursday to be considered during the session. Of course, rules are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive. Dome’s favorite: Strip a bill that has already crossed over of its language and insert your bill of choice.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Read more about the issues hanging in the balance this week at the legislature. And send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: First Lady ventues into policy, TABOR bill gets a hearing

FIRST LADY BACKS BILL TO REGULATE PUPPY MILLS: Venturing into public policy for the first time as First Lady, Ann McCrory issued an open letter to lawmakers supporting House Bill 930 to establish standards for dog breeders. The bill is a weakened version of the original legislation which sought to crack down on puppy mills. "| am writing to thank you for your unanimous support of l-louse Bill 930. Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities is a very important issue to me, and to people across our state," Ann McCrory wrote in the letter. "| especially wish to Representatives Saine, McGrady and Brown for their leadership on this issue. l hope you and other members of the General Assembly will continue to advocate for this bill, and other legislation establishing higher standards for Commercial breeders. These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across the state. You have my full support."

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a Taxpayer Bill of Rights measure, known as TABOR, that would restrict state spending. Its hugely controversial and produced varied results. Other legislative committees will consider trimming environmental regulations and altering rules governing midwifery. On the Senate floor, lawmakers will hear a bill to prevent undercover whistleblower operations at farms and processing plants. And in the House, a bill about cancer drugs that split Republicans faces another vote, as does the LEED certification bill. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina political news below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Tax plan takeaways, full day at legislature

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The sausage machine is churning fast these days. A House regulatory reform committee will consider a number of measures to streamline government oversight, a major Republican agenda item, and the House Elections Committee will hear bills to repeal the state's antiquated literacy test and make judicial elections partisan contests. A Senate education committee will vote on a bill to regulate student prayers at school and athletic events and a Senate health care care committee takes up another abortion-related bill. The full House will take votes on a bill to impose term limits on House and Senate leaders and a proposal to repeal the estate tax. The full Senate will hear a measure to ban e-cigarette sales to minors. Gov. Pat McCrory will make an economic development announcement at 3 p.m. in Raleigh.

***More political intelligence below in the Dome Morning Memo including analysis of the Senate's tax plan and a roundup of the fast and furious legislative action. Send news and tips to dome @newsobserver.com. Thanks.***

Senate rolls out tax plan, House yawns

Top Senate Republicans detailed a much-anticipated plan Tuesday to overhaul the state’s tax system by cutting personal and corporate income taxes in exchange for a broader sales tax applied to everything from haircuts to car repairs.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said the forthcoming legislation would trim the personal income tax from the highest 7.75 percent rate to 4.5 percent over three years and cut the corporate income tax from the current 6.9 percent to 6 percent.

The combined local and state sales tax would fall from 6.75 percent to 6.5 percent, but it would apply to hundreds of services currently exempted, including prescription drugs. The food tax would increase from the current 2 percent to the full sales tax rate, more than a three-fold increase.

The plan represents a retreat for Senate Republicans who earlier this year announced intentions to eliminate personal and corporate income taxes, a proposal also floated by Gov. Pat McCrory on the campaign trail. And many questions remain because lawmakers have not filed the exact legislation yet. Full story.

Thom Tillis issues a warning to Republicans about overreaching

House Speaker Thom Tillis issued a warning last weekend to his fellow Repubicans about overreaching with their supermajority power.

"I was the GOP minority whip in 2009," he began in a Facebook post. "My job was to get conservative Democrats to help us defeat liberal legislation. The Democratic leaders, heavily influenced by their most liberal members and far-left groups, could not resist the pressure to move too far to fast. They did not compromise and they went too far.

"They got out of step with the citizens of NC and they lost their majority as a result. It was their lack of discipline that laid the groundwork for Republicans to have House/Senate super majorities, a GOP governor, and (lieutenant) governor," he concluded. "Our lack of discipline will lay the groundwork for their ascendency and if they succeed we will only have ourselves to blame."

What generated the post is unclear. A Tillis spokesman declined to elaborate and answer specific questions. "Speaker Tillis was simply recapping what occurred under Democratic leadership before Republicans won a majority in 2010, and pointing out that the Republican majority should learn from the mistakes of Democratic leadership of the past," spokesman Jordan Shaw said Monday.

Morning Memo: Fracking board under fire, Letterman takes shot at 'Dick' Burr

ENERGY COMPANY THWARTS FRACKING RULE: After more than six months of congenial meetings, the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission was set to approve its first fracking rule Friday, perhaps the most important of all the safety rules the commission will write to protect the public and safeguard the environment. The standard spells out which chemicals fracking operators have to publicly disclose when drilling natural gas wells in North Carolina.

But commissioners learned Thursday the proposal they had approved in committee in March is on ice. The problem: Fracking giant Halliburton has told North Carolina’s environmental regulators the rule goes too far. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working to get the rule changed.

The developments raise questions about the independence and integrity of the Mining & Energy Commission, a panel created by the state legislature last year to create safety rules for shale gas exploration. Fracking refers to fracturing shale rock formations using high-pressure water and chemicals to release the natural gas trapped inside. Full story.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more news and analysis from the North Carolina political arena below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

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