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Morning Memo: McCrory opposed to new casino; Hagan still trumps GOP rivals

McCRORY OPPOSES CATAWBA CASINO: The Catawba Nation has filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in a first step toward gaining permission to build a casino and resort in Cleveland County. But Gov. Pat McCrory declined requests to endorse the application, a spokesman said Monday. In his first comments on the project, the governor's office said McCrory “remains unconvinced that any new casino proposal is in the best interest of North Carolina.” Read more here.

2014 U.S. SENATE POLL: Look for a new Public Policy Polling survey on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race later today. In a preview, Politico reports that Democrat Kay Hagan is still trumping her GOP rivals and Senate leader Phil Berger is slightly edging House Speaker Thom Tillis in a hypothetical GOP primary-- though nearly half of voters are still unsure.

***Get a full N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Pat McCrory signs remaining bills on his desk, punts on one

The regulatory measure Gov. Pat McCrory signed is one of 33 bills he endorsed Friday, the final batch from a prolonged legislative session. The governor left one measure unsigned: a bill to prevent North Carolina courts from recognizing Islamic Sharia law in family cases. In a statement, he called House Bill 522 “unnecessary.”

All told this session, McCrory signed 334 bills, vetoing two more and allowing two to become law without his signature. (The other is a measure transferring control of the Asheville water system.) Among the others signed Friday include measure to:

--Grant Republican legislative leaders the ability to intervene in a lawsuit to defend laws and the constitution, such as the state’s gay marriage ban, rather than reserving this standing to the N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat;

Morning Memo: McCrory's earnings disclosed; Chairman's mortgage under fire

PAT McCRORY MADE $175,000 ON CORPORATE BOARDS: Gov. Pat McCrory’s state financial disclosure form offers little insight into his wealth. But newly filed corporate records show the Republican made more than $175,000 in 2012 as a board member for two publicly traded companies. According to federal Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed in May, McCrory made $138,204 in total compensation (salary and stock awards) as a director at Tree.com, an online mortgage lender, through Dec. 31, 2012. SEC records filed in late July show he earned another $38,555 in total compensation as a Kewaunee Scientific director from April 2012 to the end of the year. The company paid his health insurance, which accounts for about $9,000 of the total.

McCrory resigned both boards just before he became governor. What still remains unknown: how much he made as a consultant for his brother’s firm and his previous salary at Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte law firm that does lobbying work. (Not to mention his clients for each.) And his total wealth.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN FACES CRITICS AGAIN: N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is facing heat from his naysayers again. Democratic operative Frank Eaton recently posted new court documents online showing Voller's home subject to foreclosure for delinquent payments.

But Voller refutes the suggestions that his finances -- which previously became a liability for Democrats -- are once again poised to embarrass the party. A day after the July 25 filing from Wells Fargo, Voller was accepted in a mortgage modification program, according to documents he provided to Dome. He said the court filing was merely part of the modification process.

***Read more from Voller and get a roundup of North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.

ACLU to challenge North Carolina's gay marriage ban

The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it wants to challenge North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages by asking the state Attorney General to allow the group to amend an existing case on second-parent adoptions.

The announcement came less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage remains. More on the lawsuit here.

At the same time, a national group outlined a strategy to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage in numerous states -- possibly including North Carolina by 2015-2016.

Morning Memo: Hagan supports immigration bill, Burr against

HAGAN TO SUPPORT IMMIGRATION BILL: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday announced that she’ll vote for an immigration overhaul that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, saying it will help North Carolina’s economy and strengthen the nation’s border security. “I’m ready to support a common-sense bill that’s going to fix our broken immigration system so that everybody plays by the same rules today,” the first-term Democrat said. “After listening to a wide variety of stakeholders throughout North Carolina, it’s clear to me supporting bill is the right decision for North Carolina.”

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A couple hot-button measures are resurfacing at the state legislature Thursday. The Commonsense Consumption Act, an ALEC-sponsored bill to give food manufacturers immunity against obesity-related lawsuits, appears in the Senate judiciary committee at 10 a.m. The N.C. version of the bill also includes a "Big Gulp" provision to prevent cities from passing a ban on large-sized sodas. A Sharia law measure is off the agenda. On the floor, the House will take a final vote on a bill to privatize much of the state commerce department and require certain abortion-related education in middle school health classes. The Senate will consider a bill that would restrict the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, thwarting other state efforts to set tough rules on the issue.

Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a dinner hosted by a nonprofit organized to boost his agenda in Greensboro this evening, a day after he defended it against critics who say it represents pay-for-access for special interests. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to attend the dinner, which costs $1,000 for two tickets. Dr. Ben Carson, the latest conservative TV darling, will appear at a 6:30 p.m. event in Raleigh to benefit the Upper Room church’s school.

***More on Kay Hagan's immigration vote and her potential GOP rival Thom Tillis' campaign, along with SCOTUS reaction and Mel Watt's confirmation fight, all below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: From voting rights to marriage, N.C. eyes turn to SCOTUS

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The legislative pot is beginning to boil. A busy week with a lot of moving parts continues Wednesday. A House panel will consider a bill to allow nonprofits to have casino gambling events for fundraisers while a Senate committee considers changes to the state health plan that are being closely watched by the State Employees Association. Another House committee will debate a bill -- S638 -- that the Sierra Club warns would “declassify almost half North Carolina's wetlands overnight.”

Democratic lawmakers will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to highlight the end of federal extended unemployment benefits July 1, a move prompted by a Republican-crafted bill to curtail benefits and lower the state's debt for paid claims. The N.C. NAACP will also press Gov. Pat McCrory's office this afternoon on a variety of issues as part of its continued effort to blunt the GOP legislative agenda.

The Senate calendar is full later in the day and the House will consider a massive overhaul of the state’s commerce agency with a bill that would privatize some job recruiting efforts and debate a bill about abortion education. Gov. Pat McCrory will hold an event this morning to sign the transportation funding bill, one of his early policy victories.

SCOTUS RULING PUSHES VOTER ID FORWARD: The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act could have far-reaching effects in North Carolina – affecting everything from voting districts to voter ID legislation. The court effectively struck down a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Though it left intact Section 5, which gives the Justice Department special oversight over voting laws in some states, it nullified the formula on which that oversight is based. The ruling’s most immediate impact could be felt in the expected passage of a new voter ID requirement in North Carolina. “(It) should speed things along greatly,” Sen. Tom Apodaca said.

***More on the voter ID measure in a lengthy rundown of the action at the #NCGA below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Hagan backs gay marriage

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday that she supported the right of gay people to marry, saying “we should not tell people who they can love or who they can marry.''

Hagan announced her support as the US Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue.

“I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions,” Hagan said in an interview. “But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today.''

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.***

NC Values Coalition leader addresses multitudes

Raleigh's Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, spoke to a rally in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in an event coinciding with the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the gay marriage debate.

The coalition said it was a crowd of 10,000 on the National Mall for the National March for Marriage. Fitzgerald touted North Carolina's vote last year to amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

"Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does," Fitzgerald reportedly said. "Marriage is rooted in the reality that children need a mother and a father."

Morning Memo: Another gambling bust with N.C. ties; Hagan remains against gay marriage

ANOTHER GAMBLING BUST WITH N.C. TIES: On the same day Florida prosecutors busted a gambling operation that snared a company with major North Carolina political ties, an Ohio prosecutor leveled a new indictment against another sweepstakes company with Tar Heel ties.

The March 13 superseding indictment updated charges filed in May against VS2 Worldwide Communications, a company that operated illegal Internet sweepstakes gaming software, according to local news reports. The company's owners, Phillip Cornick of New Jersey and Richard Upchurch of Ramseur, face charges in Ohio of money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The two men and their wives contributed more than $45,000 to North Carolina political candidates -- including Gov. Pat McCrory -- with more than half coming after their initial May indictments.

HAGAN ONE OF 11 SENATE DEMOCRATS NOT TO ENDORSE GAY MARRIAGE: North Carolina's Kay Hagan remains opposed to gay marriage, even though three prominent Democrats colleagues recently shifted their stances. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday (California's Proposition 8) and Wednesday (the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA) about same-sex marriage.

**More on the VS2's campaign contributions and Hagan's stance on gay marriage below in today's Dome Morning Memo. Sends news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Thanks for reading.***

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