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McGowan taking helm at N.C. Petroleum Council

North Carolina's lobbying group for the politically influential oil-and-gas industry is getting a new executive director for the first time in nearly four decades. The leadership change at the N.C. Petroleum Council comes at a time that state lawmakers are debating fracking, the most contentious energy policy in at least a half-century.

David McGowan, 33, a lobbyist for the N.C. Association of Realtors, will replace Bill Weatherspoon, who retired last month after 39 years on the job. Weatherspoon turns 70 on Tuesday. The Petroleum Council, a one-man shop that hires contract lobbyists as needed, is the state office of the American Petroleum Institute, the nation's voice of big oil and natural gas. "I'll be lobbyist, stamp-licker, envelope deliverer -- all of the above," said McGowan, who leaves the realtors' group Friday and starts with the state petroleum organization on Monday.

Big rallies expected at state legislature

Expect a crowd Tuesday at the N.C. General Assembly. The N.C. chapter of the NAACP is holding a lobbying day, promising to mobilize huge numbers to counter what they believe is an extreme Republican agenda.

The Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) coalition will start with an event at First Baptist church in downtown Raleigh at 9 a.m. "We are petitioning our government for redress of grievances," Rev. William J. Barber said in a statement. "With people who are being directly penalized and punished by the extreme ideological agenda being promoted on Jones Street, we will peaceably, and with grace, demand they stop their attacks on the most vulnerable North Carolinians.

The event coincides with N.C. Women United's legislative advocacy day. The group expects 85 to 100 supporters from across the state to flood the legislative buildings and push for "proactive measures that prioritize the needs of women and their families in North Carolina." Kim Gandy, the leader of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, will serve as a keynote speaker at a 9:15 a.m. rally.

Morning Memo: McCrory to shuffle commerce; a mid-session recap

McCRORY TO ANNOUNCE COMMERCE SHUFFLE: From AP -- Gov. Pat McCrory is using the backdrop of a textile manufacturer for a big announcement about how North Carolina government is seeking to increase business in the state. McCrory is speaking Monday at Copland Fabrics in Burlington about what his office called a major commerce and economic development policy announcement. The Republican governor has been telling audiences his administration is assembling a state Commerce Department reorganization proposal.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 7 p.m. But expect a crowd earlier in the day at the Wake County legislative delegation meeting. Hundreds attended the prior delegation meeting to voice concerns and support for a number of major changes local lawmakers are looking to make. Monday's meeting is at 4-6 p.m. in room 643 of the legislative office building. Also, expect a state audit on the town of Princeville, where state officials seized financial control in July 2012. (More on that story here.)

***Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. A roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: Voter ID legislation takes stage after crazy day at legislature

VOTER ID DUEL STARTS THE DAY: Democratic leaders frame the day with a 9:45 a.m. press conference about recent election legislation, from curtailing early voting to voter ID measures, but it better not take too long because House Speaker Thom Tillis will take the same podium at 10:30 a.m. A Republican announcement of a voter ID bill is possible given next week's Elections Committee hearing seeking public comment on the issue.

GOP FLOODGATES OPEN: Voter ID joins a long list of other major policy changes blossoming at the same time in the middle of this legislative session. Let's try to put it in one sentence: With voter ID, the House is launching the most politically volatile issue of the session at the same time Senate Republicans explore a major income tax overhaul that would redefine who carries the burden of the state's tax system and Gov. Pat McCrory readies a long list of policies to reverse course on Democratic rule for the past 20 years, starting with his Medicaid overhaul and state budget proposal, while other lawmakers push plenty of smaller but equally major bills to create a separate governing system for charter schools, repeal the state's renewable energy credits, support gun ownership, restart the death penalty, legalize some sweepstakes, put restrictions on those seeking public assistance, consider an Arizona-styled immigration checks and establish a resolution that says N.C. towns and cities can set an official religion. All this arose in various ways in a single day. When's sine die?

***Don't miss today's Dome Morning Memo -- a recap of news and analysis from a big day at the statehouse. More below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Senate GOP proposes to gradually cut income taxes

The state's personal and corporate income tax rates would gradually decrease under two major tax bills introduced Wednesday by leading Senate Republicans.

Under Senate bill 669, the personal income tax would fall to 4 percent by 2016 for most households and married couples making less than $12,500 would pay no income tax. The state's current rate is the top income bracket is 7.75 percent -- the highest in the Southeast.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a possible U.S. Senate candidate in 2014, took the unusual step of signing on as a primary sponsor of the measure. A Berger spokeswoman said the bill is a placeholder for a larger plan expected in coming days that calls for the complete elimination of the personal income tax. She referred all other questions to Sen. Bob Rucho, a primary co-sponsor, who was not immediately available for comment.

The second measure, Senate bill 677, reduces the state's 6.9 percent corporate income tax rate to 6 percent after 2015. The legislation is scheduled for its first hearing Tuesday.

Morning Memo: McCrory to announce Medicaid overhaul; big day at statehouse

McCRORY TO ANNOUNCE MEDICAID SYSTEM OVERHAUL: Gov. Pat McCrory rejected a Medicaid expansion earlier this year saying the system was broken and Wednesday morning he is expected to describe how he plans to fix it. The Republican has talked frequently about the rising costs of the healthcare system for select low-income and disabled residents and issued a video preview Tuesday saying he would create a "partnership" that will help keep costs low. Check Dome later today for more details from the 10 a.m. press conference.

***It's a jam-packed day in North Carolina politics. Get the full scoop on all the big stories from the Dome Morning Memo below. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com.***

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 dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: McCrory adminstration reverses Confederate flag stance

FLAG FLAP PROMPTS McCRORY ABOUT-FACE: A Confederate battle flag hung inside the old North Carolina State Capitol last week to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being taken down after civil rights leaders raised concerns. The decision was announced Friday evening, hours after the Associated Press published a story about the flag, which officials said was part of an historical display intended to replicate how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. The flag had been planned to hang in the House chamber until April 2015, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of federal troops in Raleigh.

"This is a temporary exhibit in an historic site, but I've learned the governor's administration is going to use the old House chamber as working space," Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz said Friday night. "Given that information, this display will end this weekend rather than April of 2015." The decision was a quick about-face for the McCrory administration, which initially defended the display. More from AP here.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below. ***

GOP introduces bills to curtail early voting, end same-day registration

Two new bills filed Thursday would change the way North Carolinians vote.

The state's early voting period would be shortened and Sunday voting eliminated under one bill. The bill from House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes of Caldwell County also would eliminate straight-ticket voting and same-day registration. And it would make non-partisan judicial elections partisan.

The bill could help Republicans.

It would lop a week off the early voting period, which Democrats have used more successfully than Republicans. It would also stop straight-ticket voting. Democrats cast 300,000 more straight tickets than Republicans in 2012. And by ending Sunday voting, it would stop the heavily Democratic "Souls to the Polls" efforts to get voters out after Sunday church services.

A bill introduced by Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville would eliminate public financing of judicial and other statewide races now eligible for it. --Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer

Morning Memo: Another big day at the statehouse, gambling money purge continues

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Another big day at the legislature as the legislative session nears the half-way mark and the bill filing deadline. 10 a.m.: The Senate Education Committee considers a bill to take charter school oversight authority away from the state's Department of Public Instruction and loosen requirements on the schools. Noon: House Public Utilities considers bill to stifle the state's consumer advocacy group. 1 p.m.: House Elections Committee will discuss repeal of campaign finance matching money for candidates, a measure included in the governor's budget. The committee sent a notice that the voter ID measure is on hold temporarily so it can consider other legislation, a reversal from what lawmakers planned. At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee will begin talk about taxes with discussion of a bill to reduce the burden on businesses but no votes are expected. 2 p.m.: The Carolina Panthers bill is on the House calendar. The Senate convenes simultaneously with no major bills on the desk.

Today, Gov. Pat McCrory sticks to his comfort zone for another address to another business group, this one is the N.C. Chamber's annual conference in Greensboro. Later in the day, he'll meet privately with the N.C. Sheriff's Association.

GAMBING MONEY PURGE CONTINUES: As the Morning Memo reported Tuesday, McCrory forfeited campaign contributions from a second sweepstakes company executive charged in an gambling ring. And as AP found, the purge is likely to continue: McCrory received another $8,000 in October from John Patrick Fannin and his wife, who live in Little River, South Carolina, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. Fannin is also among the sweepstakes operators indicted by Florida prosecutors in the Allied Veteran's case. (A McCrory spokeswoman) said McCrory's campaign will review those donations, too.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below.***

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