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Two more portions of a 2020 concealed weapons bill that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed successfully last year have resurfaced this year in separate measures. A House judiciary committee recommended both of them on Wednesday. One bill would add emergency medical technicians to the list of people who could carry concealed permits when they’re providing medical assistance to officers.  Another measure would make it easier for a concealed permit holder whose license has lapsed to avoid taking another comprehensive firearms safety and training course before a renewal.

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A North Carolina legislative chamber has approved legislation requiring school districts to offer in-person summer school that targets children at risk of academic failure due to poor virtual learning during the pandemic. The bipartisan measure envisions roughly six weeks of instructional time. Children wouldn't be required to attend, but program supporters say it could help them them get promoted to the next grade. House Speaker Tim Moore is a primary sponsor of the measure that now heads to the Senate.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has announced bars can reopen with indoor service for the first time since in nearly a year. He also eased gathering indoor gathering limits and occupancy limits for many businesses starting Friday. His new executive order paves the way for large sports and entertainment venue to allow fans back. If health guidelines are followed, facilities with over 5,000 seats can operate at 15% capacity. Smaller sports facilities, bars and movie theaters can operate at 30% capacity up to 250 people.

NC Public Schools

The principal at West Craven High School has accepted a new position with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Craven County Schools said in a news release that Tabari Wallace was offered the new position as Special Advisor to the State Superintendent Catherine Truitt in the area of principal engagement. Wallace was named the North Carolina State Principal of the Year in 2018.

North Carolina's top elections administrator says the Census delay will make it impossible for some local governments to carry out their elections on time. Karen Brinson Bell wants state lawmakers to sign off on her recommendation that all municipal elections be delayed until 2022. She is also calling on leaders to delay the scheduled March 2022 primary in order to generate new legislative and congressional maps. The Republican-controlled General Assembly decides when to hold the elections, and the state elections board implements the plan.

Two small political parties in North Carolina that failed to meet candidate support thresholds in November to remain on future ballots will get more time to retain their registered voters. The State Board of Elections agreed on Tuesday not to redesignate voters registered with the Constitution Party of North Carolina or North Carolina Green Party as unaffiliated voters until June. But the change won't happen if the parties turn in enough signatures by then to be recognized again in time for the upcoming municipal elections.

A North Carolina legislative committee has agreed to a bill that would let concealed weapon permit holders be armed at more churches. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday for the measure, which allows the permittees to carry handguns on private school campuses when separate church services are happening onsite. Current law allows standalone churches to let concealed weapon holders carry a handgun, but not at churches that hold services at the same location where the school operates. The measure largely follows portions of a 2020 gun bill that Democratic Gov.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing examining the security failures that led to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Watch the proceedings live.

"Syringe and Vaccine" by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

North Carolina public health officials expect further delays in deliveries for coronavirus vaccines. The Biden administration informed states the increased shipping delays were a result of inclement weather. Health officials in North Carolina now warn that some providers may decide not to go forward with plans to vaccinated teachers due to the delayed supply and high demand among health care workers and residents 65 years or older who are currently eligible for the vaccine. Other frontline workers are scheduled to receive Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on March 10.

A trial court judge says he’ll leave in place another judge’s decision that rejected arguments from an unsuccessful bidder for North Carolina’s upcoming managed-care initiative for Medicaid. The Wake Superior Court judge said late Thursday he would uphold an administrative law judge’s previous decision affirming how the Department of Health and Human Services conducted the process that led to contract awards in 2019. Four conventional insurers and one physician partnership received the awards.

North Carolina's state auditor says the state's Medicaid agency fell short on ensuring doctors and other medical providers met licensing and ownership qualifications to serve patients in the program. Thursday's report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office examined samples from among the state's 90,000 Medicaid providers. The performance audit found the state Medicaid office often failed to identify and remove those whose professional licenses has been suspended or terminated. A contractor performs those duties. There are over $13 million in potential overpayments in the samples alone.

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North Carolina public health officials say they're experiencing shipping delays that could cause providers to have to reschedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The Department of Health and Human Services says few Pfizer doses have shipped this week. Doses of the Moderna vaccine have yet to arrive. The inclement weather is causing delays across the country as states work to vaccinate people. North Carolina was expected to receive over 163,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and nearly 127,000 does from Pfizer.

New school-age drivers in North Carolina could receive a provisional license in half the time in legislation recommended by a state Senate committee. Current law requires young people with learner’s permits to hold them at least 12 months before seeking a license that lets them drive unsupervised. The bill would reduce that to six months. The drivers would still have to log 60 hours behind the wheel. The measure also would allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to contract out road tests.

CNN

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state must learn from the surprise tornado that struck the community of Ocean Isle Beach with little or no warning, leaving three people dead and 10 injured. The Democratic governor toured the damages Wednesday and promised to rush state resources to help people rebuild. He said officials must study how to give more warning time in future storms. Residents told the governor they had to scramble quickly to hide in closets and bathrooms as the tornado struck late Monday night.

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The North Carolina General Assembly has finalized a mandate for school districts to offer daily in-person instruction to K-12 students, some of whom have been kept out of classrooms for nearly a year due to the pandemic. The House’s vote on Wednesday approved the compromise measure with the Senate, which voted for the same bill Tuesday. The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has been opposed to the mandate and has been trying to persuade schools to open at least some classes, rather than forcing them. Cooper can veto the bill or it could become law.

NCDHHS

North Carolina public health officials are shifting their guidance to improve access to the vaccine for North Carolinians. The new state guidance permitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows vaccinators to turn away people who are briefly passing through the state or are coming to North Carolina for the main purpose of getting a COVID-19 shot and then returning to another state. Non-residents can still take advantage of loopholes. Several people living outside North Carolina took advantage of mass vaccination clinics last month in the Charlotte area.

More local governments in North Carolina could bypass newspapers and instead post public notices online in legislation advancing in the state House. A pair of bills approved by a judiciary committee would allow city councils and county commissioners in about two dozen counties put notices on county-operated websites. State law usually requires these notices and advertisements be printed in the newspaper. Backers of the measures say the switch could help cash-strapped local governments cut advertising costs.

State and federal unemployment benefit payments that have been paid out during the coronavirus pandemic have exceeded $10 billion. That's according to the state's Division of Employment Security. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Tuesday that most of that money was paid out months ago. For instance, more than $8 billion was paid out between late March and the end of September. Since October, unemployment benefits have totaled slightly less than $2 billion. Overall, there have been 3.36 million initial unemployment claims during the pandemic.

CNN

Authorities say a ferocious tornado killed three people and injured at least 10 in a coastal community of North Carolina. Officials say the twister struck shortly before midnight Monday just inland from the barrier island of Ocean Isle Beach. The storm ripped homes apart and flipped cars over. Gov. Roy Cooper said dozens of homes were damaged. The National Weather Service says the tornado was an EF3, with winds estimated at 160 mph (257 kph).

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has again picked a veteran leader from the Environmental Defense Fund to become his environment secretary. Cooper announced on Tuesday that Dionne Delli-Gatti will replace Michael Regan as head of the Cabinet-level Department of Environmental Quality. Regan is poised to become the next administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after President Joe Biden nominated him. A Senate confirmation vote could come next week. Delli-Gatti has served most recently as director of Southeast Climate and Energy at Environmental Defense.

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North Carolina House Republicans are backing a summer school program designed to target K-12 students at risk of academic failure as virtual learning continues during the pandemic. House Speaker Tim Moore highlighted the idea Tuesday. He said the measure will be discussed in a committee Wednesday. The in-person program would last six weeks. Moore says districts are getting enough COVID-19 relief money to fund the program, which includes hiring teachers temporarily.

North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles has started offering road tests to teen drivers again. The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the DMV had largely stopped the tests last March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The agency had waived the driver’s test requirement for most people seeking their first North Carolina license. But the policy didn’t apply to 16- or 17-year-olds seeking a provisional license. The DMV has developed a road test course in large parking lots that does not require examiners and students to sit together in a car.

NCDPS

North Carolina is in a stronger financial position than budget analysts anticipated last year at the start of the pandemic. A group of economists at the Office of State Budget and Management and the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division now project the state to have $4.1 billion more in revenue this fiscal year than expected. The report notes that a small share of the population will remain unemployed or underemployed as long as the coronavirus is prevalent. The extra revenue primarily came from higher income and sales tax collections and strong business tax collections.

NCDHHS

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 3% of people who have received first doses in the state are nonresidents. Data from the department shows more than 27,000 people living out of state have received first doses of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines. Residents of South Carolina have hopped across the state border due to frustrations over their home state's appointment booking process. More than 1 million people have been vaccinated in North Carolina since the distribution efforts began in November.

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North Carolina House lawmakers approved a bill to require K-12 schools to reopen with at least some in-person offering. Parents who do not want to send their child back to school would still be given the option of learning remotely. But the Senate declined to send the proposal to Gov. Roy Cooper after changes were made that make it easier for teachers to continue working from home. Teacher advocates want workers immediately vaccinated. That could be a challenge amid supply shortages and strong demand among elderly residents.

NCDPS

North Carolina K-12 teachers and child care staff will soon be eligible to get vaccinated. Other frontline essential workers could get their doses as early as March 10. The updated distribution guidance from Gov. Roy Cooper's administration addresses concerns from teachers advocates that many workers do not yet feel safe to return to in-person instruction. A bill making its way through the legislature would compel the districts to swiftly reopen but give parents the option to have their child continue to learn remotely.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill from state lawmakers that will distribute money approved by Congress for reopening schools, improving vaccine distribution and helping people pay their rent. Many parts of the proposal mirror that of a supplemental request of Cooper. Still up for discussion is an effort by Cooper to provide direct one-time checks to teachers, principals and staff members. The COVID relief package Cooper signed includes another opportunity for parents to get $335 checks to help offset costs they've incurred associated with childcare and remote learning.

Hospitals in North Carolina are still trying to get employees vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday that the state does not yet know what portion of nearly half a million eligible health care workers have been inoculated. That’s according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Hospital leaders are encouraging employees to get vaccinated. And they say they’re pleased with the results so far. That’s even though as many as one in four eligible workers remain unvaccinated.

NCDPS

North Carolina has reached a sobering milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services today reported more than 10,000 North Carolinians have died from the virus. The state also surpassed 800,000 total cases today. At a press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said the state’s top priority is to equitably and quickly distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We continue running an efficient vaccine distribution and are getting all of North Carolina’s allocated first doses into arms each week before we receive the next shipment,” Cooper said. 

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North Carolina state senators have sent a bill over to the House that would require K-12 public schools to offer an option of at least some in-person instruction to students. Teacher advocates worry about the safety of reopening since the state is not currently allowing those workers to get vaccinated. Gov. Roy Cooper has strongly recommended school boards reopen but does not want to mandate it. The bill introduced by Republicans would give districts a couple weeks to get kids back into classrooms. Parents would still have the option of having their child continue to learn remotely.

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