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Morning Memo: Feds to challenge N.C. voting law; Senate candidates scrap for cash

FEDS TO CHALLENGE NORTH CAROLINA’S VOTING LAW: The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud.

***Read more on the forthcoming lawsuit, get #NCSEN updates and a roundup of North Carolina political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Advocacy group says two-thirds of legislature failed environment

Environment North Carolina says 112 lawmakers received a failing grade by their marks this session with only one Republican receiving a passing score.

The group's 2013 legislative scorecard put 65 percent of the 170-member N.C. General Assembly in the failing category based on nine contested votes in the House and 13 in the Senate. Nearly two-thirds of the Senate didn't pass the environmental advocacy group's test.

“This year, the Senate approved extreme measures to rush the state into fracking, do away with protections for our beaches, rivers and lakes, and dismantle our environmental commissions,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director, in a statement. “Given all the Senate’s attacks on the environment this year, their dismal scores are disappointing, but not all that surprising.”

Morning Memo: With jobless benefits expiring, focus on Moral Monday protest

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: How big will Moral Monday get? That's the top question today at the statehouse. Now in the ninth week, the protests are expected to grow because long-term unemployment benefits end Monday for more than 70,000 workers thanks to a bill approved by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. A rainy weather forecast may dampen the demonstration.

With the House not holding full sessions this week, the Senate is moving forward. At 2 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will meet to look at the chamber's tax plan again. It is expected to send it back to the floor, where it will get a final vote this week and start the conference process on an issue that has stymied Republicans. The full Senate starts at 7 p.m.

UPDATED: McCrory released a public schedule later in the morning saying he would attend the swearing in ceremony for utilities board members.

CHRISTENSEN: Tax debate cherry picks statistics. In his Sunday column, Rob Christensen looks at the motivation for tax reform, picking apart the numbers to conclude: "There may be a legitimate argument for tinkering with the tax code – making sure corporate taxes are not out of line with neighboring states. But the link between lowering taxes and a booming state economy is weak. ...

So what is the value to having one of the lowest business tax rates, if you jeopardize the state’s quality of life? Those business executives don’t just want to move businesses here, but they want to live here as well." Full story.

***Find many more political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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: Rare session at Capitol, more fallout from tainted donor

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene this evening in the old legislative chambers at the Capitol to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the recovering of the N.C. Bill of Rights after a Union soldier took it during the Civil War. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a reception for the event earlier in the day.

McCRORY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TAINTED BURNS MONEY:From AP: North Carolina's governor says he had no contact with a campaign contributor who faces racketeering charges in Florida over illegal gambling. Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday he had never heard of Chase Egan Burns, the Oklahoma man accused this week of owning gambling parlors operated by Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors say the purported charity earned about $300 million from illegal gambling, with only about 2 percent actually going to veterans. McCrory's campaign has purged itself Wednesday of $8,000 in contributions made in October by Burns and his wife, sending the money to a Durham charity. "I wouldn't know him if I saw him," said McCrory, a Republican. "I think we got it (the checks) through the mail."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Click "Read More" for more.***

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***

Morning Memo: McCrory to White House; more details from strategy memo

MEMO STIRS THE N.C. POLITICAL POT: The political strategy memo from a cadre of groups aligned with Democratic causes is getting a good bit of attention for its tactics. One overlooked in all the coverage: a staff of video trackers to follow the every move of the "targets" (Pat McCrory, Thom Tillis, Phil Berger) and hiring private investigators.

McCRORY VISITING THE WHITE HOUSE: Pat McCrory is visiting Washington Friday through Monday for a series of meetings with the National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association. On Sunday, along with all governors, he will dine at the White House with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, followed by a meeting at the White House the next morning with the president.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more N.C. political news and analysis below, including more details from the anti-Republican strategy memo.

Morning Memo: Medical marijuana, topless rallies, possums on today's legislative agenda

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Bring the Doritos and the duct tape for the House Rules Committee meeting Wednesday. The powerful panel will consider a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal use and another aimed at topless rallies in Asheville by women seeking gender equity. (The committe chairman recently suggested women could use duct tape to get around the law.) On the more serious side, a House committee will consider a measure to repeal the estate tax, even though top Senate Republicans are not interested in the issue as part of their tax proposal. The Senate Rules Committee considers the possum bill. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m.

ANN McCRORY'S INAUGURAL GOWN GOES TO MUSEUM: From AP -- North Carolina first lady Ann McCrory is turning over her inaugural gown to the N.C. Museum of History, which will include it in an exhibition about governors and their spouses. Ann McCrory's gown will be on display Wednesday evening during an event for History Museum associates. After that, it will be featured in the exhibit "Leading the State: North Carolina's Governors," which ends April 28. During the event Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory will speak briefly with the N.C. Museum of History Benefactors Circle and the Gold Quill Society.

Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo, a daily political tipsheet for North Carolina. Read much more below.

Morning Memo: What voters want to hear McCrory say in State of State

McCRORY TO SIGN FIRST BILL, GIVE STATE OF STATE ADDRESS: As expected, Gov. Pat McCrory is making the most of an education bill that hit his desk last week, as opposed to another that will cut unemployment benefits. From AP: McCrory planned to put his signature on a law Monday morning in Asheboro that requires the State Board of Education develop by the fall of 2014 new diplomas that make clear a student is ready for college, ready a vocational career, or both. The bill received final approval from the General Assembly last week. McCrory was scheduled to visit Randolph Community College's industrial center for the bill signing. The bill's primary sponsor is from Randolph County.

The bill also tells the state board to look at ways to make it easier to license vocational and technical teachers. The new law fits well into McCrory's campaign platform about public schools preparing students for the work world.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Apologies for Dome's technical difficulties last week. The blog back in shape now. Click below for more North Carolina political news.

Morning Memo: N.C. part of 'great gerrymander', GOP legislature pushes ahead

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Monday legislative sessions are typically quiet but Republican lawmakers are using the first one this year to push two major proposals to overhaul unemployment benefits amid the state's $2.5 billion debt to the federal government (House) and block the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law (Senate). The floor action for both chambers starts at 7 p.m. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events today.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Republicans have the votes to pass the measure but the question is how big a fight Democrats will mount. The tone and strategy of the Democratic opposition will help define the partisan relations this legislative session and signal whether the minority party will acquiesce to GOP supermajorities or make their lives difficult.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- keep reading for more analysis and a N.C. political news digest. ***

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