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Morning Memo: Lawmakers return for overrides; elections board hears appeals

Lawmakers return to Raleigh on Tuesday to consider overriding vetoes of two immigration and drug-testing-for-welfare-recipients bills. House Republican leaders may think they have enough votes, but Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has been fighting to the end to sway them, using new media to get his points across and relying on old-fashioned endorsements.

The governor isn't the only one using the veto-session to highlight legislative issues. ***Get more on it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo, along with a holiday weekend news roundup.***

Morning Memo: Tillis dodges shutdown questions; McHenry pressed on Obamacare

TILLIS DODGES GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN QUESTION: Republican Thom Tillis is emphasizing his opposition to the federal health care law in his campaign for the U.S. Senate but at the same time he's avoiding answering some questions on the issue. A Democratic Party operative recently asked the Republican House speaker about whether he agrees with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others who suggested shutting down government to defund the federal health care law.

While walking to a recent D.C. fundraiser, Tillis didn't offer a direct answer -- even though if elected he may face similar circumstance. "It's not my decision to make but anything we could do to slow down or eliminate Obamacare would be good for the nation," he said in a video posted online. (Watch above.)

Does Tillis agree with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr that a shutdown is the "dumbest idea" ever? Again no answer. "I'm going to leave that to the duly elected senators but i think we can do to stop Sen. Hagan and President Obama from creating all the uncertainty and cost that comes with Obamacare it would be a good thing," he said. Expect both questions to return soon.

***See the Tillis video below in the Dome Morning Memo, along with another video from Republicans punking people at the "Moral Monday" rally.

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.***

Republicans organize counter rally to 'Moral Mondays'

As national attention focuses on North Carolina's weekly demonstrations at the statehouse, Wake County Republicans are organizing a counter effort.

Dubbed "Truthful Tuesday," Wake County GOP Chairwoman Donna Williams is asking conservatives to rally on the Halifax Mall outside the Legislative Building at 4 p.m. July 16. An email to supporter suggests that it would come near the end of the legislative session amid consideration of the controversial voter ID measure.

Williams writes in the invite: "Joyce Krawiec, NC GOP Vice-Chair has been working closely with NCGOP Chairman Claude Pope and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis to coordinate this event with the closing of this historic legislation session and the passing of Voter I.D. The event will be followed by a reception in the Rotunda."

Morning Memo: Abortion bill back on agenda; McCrory's misfire at Obama

ABORTION BILL IS 'CHRISTMAS IN JULY': The abortion bill resurfaces for discussion in the House on Tuesday after a vocal protest against it a day earlier. (More on Monday's demonstrations below.) So we know what critics say about the abortion bill, but what about supporters? Christian Action League's Rev. Mark Creech is asking proponents to "pray for Christmas in July." On the group's website, he writes: "In all my days, I have never seen a bill so full of good content. I have shared with my friends that the legislation is a veritable Christmas tree of beautiful lights and ornaments representing life, justice and other righteous principles. The only thing missing is the crowning star of final passage and the governor’s signature. For those of us who believe in faith, family, and freedom, this bill is Christmas in July."

McCRORY'S MISFIRE AT OBAMA: Gov. Pat McCrory sought to deflect blame for North Carolina's decision to curtail jobless benefits by pointing the finger Monday at President Barack Obama's administration. The problem is he pointed in the wrong direction. (Read more below.)

***Click below for details about the controversial abortion bill and more North Carolina political news and analysis in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: NC's new brand; protests expected to swell

NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW BRAND: "North Carolina’s national brand may be changing – but not the way Gov. Pat McCrory intended when he talked during his campaign about the Tar Heel state undergoing an image makeover," writes columnist Rob Christensen. "… The new brand that McCrory seems to want is that North Carolina is more business-friendly. But since he took office in January, the state has been undergoing a brand change of a very different kind. The sharp rightward turn of the legislature and the Moral Monday protests have turned North Carolina into one of the nation’s top political spectacles. … The national coverage is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Unfortunately for North Carolina, it may also be the wrong kind of publicity." Read more here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night. The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools. The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May. Also back: Moral Monday demonstrations, which are expected to draw huge crowds after the Senate's approval of a major abortion bill.

***Get a complete roundup of political news from the extended holiday weekend below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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: Tillis likely a 'no' on immigration; Ellmers weighs Senate race

TILLIS LIKELY WOULD HAVE VOTED 'NO' ON IMMIGRATION BILL: House Speaker Thom Tillis said Thursday he likely would have voted against a bipartisan immigration measure approved by the U.S. Senate. The Cornelius Republican is making a bid to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in the 2014 elections. Hagan voted for the bill. Tillis, after initially saying he hadn't looked at the bill, added that he shares "a lot of the concerns that Sen. (Richard) Burr has and Sen. (Jerry) Moran." Burr and Moran voted against.

Pressed on how he would have voted, Tillis said, "I'm not informed enough to know how I would go but most likely I would have taken the position of the majority the Republicans." The majority opposed the bill but 14, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, voted in favor.

ELLMERS TO DECIDE IN NEXT TWO WEEKS ABOUT U.S. SENATE BID: Roll Call has the update -- Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., has pushed back her timeline to make a decision about the Senate race for another couple weeks. “I haven’t quite reached my full decision, but I think I know where I’m leaning,” Ellmers told Roll Call on Thursday between votes on Capitol Hill.

***More on Ellmers decision below, along with the disbandment of the Beard Caucus and more legislative news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Abortion bill puts McCrory in spotlight, Monday protests grow

ABORTION BILL PUTS McCRORY IN A TOUGH SPOT: A controversial measure based on disputed science will get most the attention Tuesday at the statehouse. The legislation -- an amended version of which already passed the Senate -- requires teachers tell seventh graders that abortion is a risk factor in subsequent premature births. It gets a hearing in the House health committee at 10 a.m.

If approved, it could put Gov. Pat McCrory in the spotlight. In a gubernatorial debate, McCrory said he wouldn't support any new abortion restrictions -- a point critics plan to hold him to. “Governor McCrory made a promise to all of us back in October when he said he would not support any new restrictions to abortion access in our state. We’ve been collecting signatures all year from North Carolinians who have vowed to hold the Governor to his word,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, in a statement. “I want to be very clear here,” Buckley continued, “We will consider anything less than a veto of legislation aimed at limiting access to abortion care as a breach of that promise.”

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: With Republicans unable to craft a state budget before the July 1 deadline, the Senate Appropriations Committee will consider a continuing resolution to keep government running at its current level for another 30 days. It could also get to the Senate floor later in the day. In the House, an education committee will debate a bill to create an independent board to govern charter schools -- a measure that the Republican chairman of the state board of education opposes. The House is expecting a light calendar when it convenes at 2 p.m.

***Read about the big crowd and growing number of arrests at the Moral Monday protests below in today's Dome Morning Memo. Sends news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Moral Monday protesters in court ahead of 8th rally

MORAL MONDAY PROTESTERS GO TO COURT, RALLY AGAIN: The 8th Moral Monday protest starts about 5 p.m. today and Democratic Congressman David Price will attend and boost its profile. Earlier in the day, about 17 protesters are expected to appear in court -- the first hearing for any of the nearly 500 people arrested at the N.C. General Assembly during protests against the state's Republican leaders. They are likely to plead not guilty to three charges stemming from their arrest at the first demonstration in April. N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber will be one of those in court. More from AP here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 7 p.m. The House has a handful of routine legislative matters on the calendar but the Senate is scheduled to take a final vote on the landfill bill, which critics say would create mega-dumps for out-of-state trash in North Carolina. Earlier in the day, the House Finance Committee will hold a much-debated public hearing on Senate Bill 315, a measure regarding water and sewer lines to a controversial development in Durham County. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the Red Hat headquarters opening in downtown Raleigh at 10:30 a.m.

***Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Read about the Democrats' "Daddy Warbucks fantasy" and business experts reaction to the tax proposal below. ***

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