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Morning Memo: Berger to make decision; Wos as a mentor to McCrory

MORAL MONDAYS IN THE FOOTHILLS: The North Carolina NAACP is taking its protest of legislative action to Yadkinville. The civil rights group said its Moral Monday and the Forward Together Movement will be at the Yadkin County Courthouse at 7 p.m. Monday.

The NAACP has been protesting actions by the Republican-dominated General Assembly for weeks. The group says it's concerned about what it calls attacks on teachers, unemployed workers, immigrants and voting rights, among other issues. Read more here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: Other political headlines to expect: Senate leader Phil Berger announces whether he will run for the U.S. Senate on Monday. Gov. Pat McCrory will take his message outside the capital city again, traveling to McAdenville for a tour at Pharr Yarns Facility and then visit Belmont for a business roundtable at the String Bean on Main Street.

***Read a dissection of the Aldona Wos profile below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Three strikes for HHS secretary; NC unemployment now nation's 3rd worst

THREE STRIKES FOR SECRETARY WOS: The controversy about high salaries for two inexperienced aides at the Department of Health and Human Services is only the latest trouble for Secretary Aldona Wos. (See more on the story below.) It's the third major controversy at the agency in the eight months since Wos, a major Republican donor and former physcian, took the helm. In February, Wos hired a director for the agency's childrens division who never took the job amid a firestorm of criticism. And in May, Wos blamed the state's decision not to expand Medicaid on the state's Democratic insurance commissioner -- not the Republican legislature and her boss, Gov. Pat McCrory. The distractions for the McCrory administration are related to communications and policy -- the two areas the high-paid staffers are charged with managing.

THE BIG STORY -- N.C. UNEMPLOYMENT NOW 3rd WORST IN THE NATION: The unemployment rate in North Carolina inched higher in July, the first uptick in the closely watched economic indicator since January. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9 percent last month, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

Although the jobless rate was seven-tenths of a percentage point lower than it was a year ago, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is tied with Rhode Island for the third-worst in the nation. Only Illinois, at 9.2 percent, and Nevada, where the unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, have higher unemployment rates. It represents a fall from fifth worst just a month ago.

***More on the state's unemployment rate and the latest DHHS controversy below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Bill Maher's screed rips North Carolina GOP

BILL MAHER RIPS NORTH CAROLINA A NEW ONE: Comedian and liberal commenter Bill Maher spent five minutes recapping North Carolina's rightward political shift concluding: "North Carolina is going ape $*!# in a way no other state has."

Maher introduces the clip comparing the state to a third world country "where Democracy itself hangs in the balance." He later blames Art Pope for the circumstances and suggested his guest Jay-Z ought to buy the state. See the clip above.

McCRORY WATCH: Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t signed any bills in a week and there are 38 of them on his desk. Deadline to sign them is a minute before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 25. He signed a spate of legislation July 29.

***The biggest bill on his desk -- read about it below. Along with more North Carolina political news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: McCrory abortion promise challenged

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 7 p.m. for what some lawmakers hope is the final week of the legislative session. It seems unlikely, even if it wraps by Sunday, because of the bevy of issues remaining on the table: fracking, voter ID, taxes, budget, landfills, abortion, guns, a regulatory overhaul, commerce bill, immigration, etc.

The House will get started Monday, debating the so-called RECLAIM NC Act, an immigration bill that splits the loyalties of immigration advocate groups. A bill about riding ATVs on roads is also on the calendar. The Senate will consider a handful of measures, including a bill to force Durham to clear hurdles for the contentious 751 development. All this takes place amid the backdrop of the 11th "Moral Monday" demonstration, which starts about 5 p.m.

McCRORY'S HOMETOWN PAPER SAYS HE 'BREAKS HIS PROMISE ON ABORTION': The Charlotte Observer issued a scathing editorial in reaction to McCrory saying he would sign the abortion bill: "McCrory should have stood firm and vetoed it. But backed into a corner politically, trying to stay in the good favor of the extreme conservatives he has deferred to since taking office, he caved. Now, he says he will sign the House bill if it reaches his desk.

"Too bad. This was a moment when McCrory could have redeemed himself and showed up as the moderate governor we thought we were getting when he was elected, the person we recognized from his years as Charlotte’s mayor. Instead McCrory broke a promise. And by doing so, he showed us that though he may be governor in name, he’s clearly not in charge." Read more here.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Many more N.C. political headlines below.***

Morning Memo: Voter ID on hold, as taxes takes stage

VOTER ID STILL ON HOLD: From AP: The Senate is putting on hold for another week debating legislation that would require photo identification to vote in person in North Carolina. Rules committee Chairman Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville said previously a voter ID bill and legislation with broader election changes would be unveiled this week. Apodaca said Monday that won't happen until next week because Republicans are still working on the legislation. He declined to provide details.

MONDAY ARRESTS AT LEGISLATURE NEAR 700: About 80 more people were arrested outside the legislative chambers Monday after a rally attracted thousands outside. Earlier in the day, lawyers, professors and religious leaders who were among the first to get arrested were in Wake County District Court. Concerned about mounting court costs, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has encouraged General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver to consider issuing citations rather than arresting the protesters. Weaver said, however, that arresting them gives law enforcement officers a way to disperse the crowd.

***In the Dome Morning Memo below, find a GOP lawmaker's thoughts on why the Confederacy lost the war, reaction to the Senate's final tax plan and more N.C. political news and analysis.***

Moral Monday protest centers on unemployment cuts

Thousands of people tramped across a muddy Halifax Mall Monday to take part in the ninth Moral Monday protest.

“Seventy-thousand,” the Rev. William Barber shouted. Attendees echoed his words. He shouted the number again and again, focusing in on the significance of Monday, July 1: The date the cuts to the state’s unemployment benefits went into effect.

“Can you hear the cries of the children whose parents cannot afford to pay their mortgages?” asked one speaker at the event, Javan Richardson of Rocky Mount, a rising ninth grader at Nash Community Early College. He came to Raleigh for his first protest Monday.

Groups make last-ditch plea to save extended unemployment benefits

Nearly two dozen advocacy organizations – representing labor, churches, senior citizens, immigrants and assorted other liberal social groups and individuals – on Tuesday again pleaded with the governor and legislators to extend unemployment benefits.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill earlier this year cutting the amount of unemployment money people can collect and reducing the length of time they can receive them. That action made the state ineligible for federal emergency funds, and as a result, some 70,000 people now receiving extended benefits will be cut off on July 1.

Morning Memo: Ahead of 2014 race, Berger, Tillis hit by national Democrats

2014 WATCH: National Democrats hit potential GOP candidates Tillis, Berger on Ryan budget. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis are making enough moves toward challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagain in 2014 that its attracting the attention of national Democrats. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is asking whether the two Republicans support Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan. "Republicans in Washington are back with their Medicare-busting budget plan, but potential GOP Senate hopefuls Phil Berger and Thom Tillis have yet to tell North Carolinians where they stand," starts a statement from the DSCC set for release later Tuesday.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will consider a bill to curtail local building design standards that local mayors want stopped dead in its tracks (more below) as well as a measure to limit tanning beds for those under age 18. House convenes at 1 p.m.; Senate convenes at 2 p.m. Gov. Pat McCrory will make a school safety announcement in Apex in the morning.

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

Morning Memo: McCrory budget may emerge soon, men oppose 'nipple bill'

McCRORY BUDGET RELEASE NEXT WEEK? Top GOP lawmakers say Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to release his state budget plan next week. The governor's office is remaining mum. But budget details are leaking to lawmakers, who say McCrory's spending plan isn't like to include details of a major tax overhaul, such as corporate or personal income tax cuts, and instead it will assume the tax plan being negotiated privately by Republicans will be revenue neutral.

MEN OPPOSE NIPPLE BILL: Public Policy Polling will release more from its statewide voter survey later Friday. But here's a peak: nearly half of men -- 45 percent -- oppose the bill to prohibit women from barring their breasts and 34 percent support. Women are deadlocked at 38 percent on what is called the "nipple bill." (Insert stereotypical joke about men here.)

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. And read much more below.***

McCrory worried about sequestration cuts on North Carolina

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gov. Pat McCrory started his trip to Washington with an interview on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" with Chuck Todd, saying he is concerned about the affect of the federal budget sequestration on the state's military bases.

"We don't know what the real impact is going to be right now," he said.

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