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Morning Memo: Voter ID talk continues, McCrory job rating steady

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The voter ID talk continues today at 1 p.m. in a House committee after more than four hours of comments Tuesday about the topic -- but not an actual bill. (More on this below.) Other House committees will consider an immigration measure to restrict the use of Mexican consular documents and a bill to limit lottery advertising. The House convenes at 3 p.m. The Senate at 2 p.m. to take a final vote on the Charlotte aiport authority. A Senate committee will consider UNC Board of Governors nominations at a 4 p.m. meeting. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events on his schedule.

McCRORY JOB RATING HOLDS STEADY: The Republican governor's approval rating stabalized in the latest Public Policy Polling survey after a month in which his negatives spiked. The March poll from the Democratic firm put McCrory's approval rating at 49 percent with 35 percent disapproving. Another 16 percent remain unsure. Pollster Tom Jensen previewed the numbers Tuesday on News14's Capital Tonight program with Tim Boynum. Check Dome for more when the full poll is released later Wednesday.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the shot of caffeine that gets the North Carolina political crowd started. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Read more news and analysis below.***

Environmental group launches radio ad against fracking

An environmental advocacy group is trying to generate grassroots opposition to the fracking bill moving with radio ads that target two lawmakers. (Listen here to a YouTube version.)

Clean Water for North Carolina, a nonprofit group, is running the minute-long radio spot in Raleigh and in the districts of Reps. James Boles and Mike Stone, both of whom live in the area in central North Carolina ripe for natural gas extraction.

"Some legislators want to go back on their promises and fast track fracking and get rid of a lot of important protections," a woman says, amid the clatter of what sounds like diner dishes. "And politicians wonder why we don't trust them," a man replies.

Morning Memo: Hagan hires campaign manager, GOP '14 field unsettled

HAGAN HIRES FORMER REID AIDE AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The 2014 U.S. Senate race is taking shape with Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan hiring Preston Elliott as her campaign manager. Elliott most recently served in the same role to help U.S. Sen. Jon Tester win re-election in Montana, one of the closely watched races of the 2012 campaign cycle. In 2010, Elliott worked as coordinated campaign director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his re-election effort, another high profile race. The big hire signals that Hagan expects a big fight in 2014. "He has a proven track record of success, and with his help and the help of North Carolinians of all walks of life, I expect to cross the finish line with a victory in November 2014," Hagan said in a statement.

WHO WILL HAGAN FACE?: A new Public Policy Polling survey -- set for release later Tuesday and obtained exclusively by Dome -- shows its a wide open race among Republican primary voters. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest leads the field with 18 percent, according ot the Democratic polling firm. PPP added Forest's name to the potential field for the first time this month and he still managed to outpace Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (13 percent) and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (12 percent). The only announced candidate, tea partier Greg Brannon, gets 4 percent and at least a quarter of voters weren't decided on any of the nine names PPP tested. (More from the poll below.)

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

Morning Memo: Questions mount on MetLife incentives deal

FIVE DAYS LATER, McCRORY STILL SILENT ON ROLE IN METLIFE DEAL: Five days after the MetLife jobs announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory and the governor's office remains quiet on what role he played in luring the company even as questions mount. Consider this lead sentence from AP story Friday: "Gov. Pat McCrory avoided questions Friday about the state offering MetLife Inc. $94 million in tax breaks and other incentives to move thousands of jobs to North Carolina and using his former employer to help broker the deal." The Friday announcement was the second time in two days that McCrory dodged reporters' questions. The governor appears at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today for a 12:30 p.m. announcement. Will he break his silence?

QUESTIONS MOUNT ABOUT THE INCENTIVES: At the same time, Charlotte area officials are raising questions about whether the incentives were even necessary to lure the company to the city, where half the 2,600 jobs will be located. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after a press conference announcing the deal, county commissioners questioned whether MetLife knew it was coming to Charlotte before commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the incentives.

Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham said questions about the timing of the incentives vote started to enter her mind when news broke that the company had picked North Carolina and media events were arranged – only two days after the commissioners voted. Later, she learned that some MetLife executives had already been picking out schools and colleges for their children. “In my opinion, the deal was done when we first learned of it and voted for incentives,” Cotham, a Democrat, wrote in her first email to commissioners on Saturday.

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Read much more below.***

Morning Memo: Emails show Tata's troubles as former Wake education chief

TATA'S TUMULTOUS TENURE AS SCHOOLS CHIEF REVEALED: Newly released email shows that former Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata -- and now state Transportation Secretary -- spent his final month in office surrounded by growing distress and concern from school board members and parents over his handling of the school bus problems and student assignment. More than 3,400 pages of email released this week as part of a public records request by news media organizations, including The News & Observer, show how much the bus fiasco affecting thousands of families was a daily concern during the first month of school. (More on this story below.)

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A bill to limit local governments from requiring inspections of homes in some instances -- a measure that is opposed by environmental groups -- is on the House calendar. The House will also consider legislation to make it a felony for a parent to fail to report a missing child, dubbed Caylee's Law after the Caylee Anthony case, in which the 2-year-old was found dead and her mother didn't report her missing for a month. At 10 a.m., Senate committee will consider (for discussion only) a midwife bill and a measure to put teeth in the state's public records law. On the Senate floor later in the day, the "red route" bill gets a final vote with toll road language attached. Gov. Pat McCrory is making an economic development announcement in Raleigh at 1 p.m.

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

Senate sends McCrory bill that eliminates the state's earned income tax credit

UPDATED:With the Senate's final approval Wednesday, a measure to let a modest state tax credit for low- and moderate-income taxpayers expire in 2013 is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The measure sunsets the earned income tax credit (EITC) -- after a one-year extension -- drew the scorn of Democrats, who unsuccessfully sought to extend it. The legislation lowers the state's tax break slightly for the 2013 tax year because the federal tax credit increased.

Republicans said the bill is standard fixes to "decouple" the state from federal tax policy. But Democrats link it with efforts this session to curtail unemployment benefits and prevent Medicaid expansion to show the majority party is disregarding the poor.

Black caucus pledges to stay vocal this session

The Legislative Black Caucus laid out it's legislative agenda, using a quote from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

"Some say, 'This is a bad time for the Black Caucus. What are you really going to do?' We are going to do a lot because we are going to be vocal," said Rep. Garland Pierce, the caucus chairman and a Wagram Democrat. Black lawmakers make up the majority of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

He pounded the Republican agenda, as Democrats have for the past several weeks, as "truly taking form the needy and giving to the greedy." Pierce, a Baptist minister, combined legislation to allow the expiration of the earned-income tax credit, unemployment benefit cuts and blocking the expansion of Medicaid with voter ID, raising his voice to say "these things are fundamentally wrong at the core and plainly ungodly."

Pierce stopped short of suggesting the Republican cuts are racially tinged. "It's not so much about black, white and party, it's a class struggle," he said.

McCrory supports voter ID effort, but sees a softer approach

Gov. Pat McCrory said he supports the legislative effort and disagrees that it infringes of the right to vote.

"I think voter ID is what you need to get Sudafed in the stores, what you need to get on a plane, what you need to get many government services at this time," he said after an event at the governor's mansion. "I do think there will be protections available for people who don't have immediate access to IDs and there will be ways to do that."

"I think requiring an ID to vote is a common sense practice," he added.

McCrory appears more flexible on what constitutes an acceptable identification than other Republicans who want to require photo IDs. The governor said he is open to other options, inclduing voter registration cards, which currently don't include a photo.

Morning Memo: Charlotte issues, legislation thwart McCrory announcement

CHARLOTTE ISSUES STEAL McCRORY'S THUNDER: Gov. Pat McCrory triumphantly returned to his home city Monday for an economic development announcement -- but you wouldn't know it from the front page of The Charlotte Observer this morning. Two controversial local issues -- control of the airport and Carolina Panthers stadium upgrades -- stole the show and the front page. McCrory punted on the airport issues but said the effort to transfer control from the city to an independent authority needed more thought. And on stadium upgrades, McCrory said no to the use of state money. (More on those stories below.) Expect more of the same today, when McCrory holds a press conference with the Metro Mayors Coalition but will likely face myriad questions about voter ID and other legislation.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will convene at 2 p.m. but no votes are expected; the Senate opens at 2:30 p.m. to consider a handful of legislation on the calendar. The action is on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk where four bills await his signature -- including a bill to block Medicaid expansion and prohibit a state-based exchange. McCrory's press conference starts at 2:15 p.m.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a tipsheet for North Carolina politics. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

Morning Memo: GOP battle on boards, voter ID effort headline the week

THIS WEEK IN POLITICS: The action at the legislature will resume full-speed this week with more intra-party fighting among the GOP on a bill to sweep clean state boards. An amended version is before the House for final approval and then goes to a reluctant Senate, setting up negotiations in conference committee. House Speaker Thom Tillis will hold a news conference Tuesday to outline plans for a voter ID bill, despite mixed messages that such a measure would not require a photo ID. Gov. Pat McCrory will make an economic development announcement Monday in Charlotte and Tuesday will host metropolitan mayors at the governor's mansion, a group close to his heart as the former Charlotte mayor. On Friday the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission meets amid legislative changes to speed the fracking timetable in North Carolina.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week, so declared by the governor, so go get a disaster kit. Send tips and items to dome@newsobserver.com***

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