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The mostly behind-the-scenes work of North Carolina House budget writers fashioning a proposed two-year government spending plan is getting unveiled. The House scheduled several subcommittee meetings on Thursday to consider spending and policy items for most government agencies. The meetings mark a key step toward rolling out a complete budget bill and the full House voting on it by the end of next week. The Republican-controlled Senate approved its own plan in June. The two chambers ultimately will have to work out differences to get a final spending plan on Democratic Gov.

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Positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Carolina, with a daily positive rate of more than 12 percent. PRE’s Meredith Radford reports that many eastern North Carolina counties are among those in the state with the highest positive case numbers in the last few weeks. 

North Carolina added more than 3,400 cases to its COVID-19 total on Wednesday. At Governor Roy Cooper’s media briefing, he emphasized that the rise in cases is driven by the unvaccinated.  

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Nearly two in five North Carolina K-12 public school districts are making masks optional for students and staff at the start of the new school year. North Carolina experts who released a frequently cited report showing minimal COVID-19 transmission within K-12 schools are warning of increased learning loss as a result of local school boards’ decisions to defy public health recommendations. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and test positivity rates are at their worst levels in months. Kids under 12 can’t yet get vaccinated and many eligible young adults are unvaccinated.

Legislation to license and tax sports betting throughout North Carolina has cleared its first Senate committee. The bipartisan legislation approved on a divided voice vote Wednesday would direct the issuance of up to 12 sports wagering operators’ licenses. License fees and a tax on gross revenues would be collected by the state. The bill’s chief sponsor says many people already are wagering on collegiate and professional events through out-of-state betting sites. Sen. Jim Perry says regulating these activities would promote transparency and generate revenues for things like education.

The North Carolina legislature has agreed that people convicted of a felony can’t run for sheriff even if it's been removed from their criminal records. The House voted on Wednesday to accept Senate changes to a measure that clarifies how to carry out a 2010 addition to North Carolina’s constitution barring convicted felons from running for sheriff. The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. Criminal offenders have been able to get some felonies removed from their records for a decade.

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U.S. government forecasters say they expect the Atlantic hurricane season to be busier than they first thought. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its hurricane outlook Wednesday. Forecasters now expect 15 to 21 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes.

Young people would need parental permission now before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina in legislation approved unanimously by the state Senate. The bill voted on Tuesday contains a parent or guardian requirement for vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use, such as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

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The Better Business Bureau says consumers have lost more than $11,000 across the triangle and eastern North Carolina to pet scams in July. The bureau is warning consumers against these online scams and advising that people see pets in person before paying any money. They also recommend doing research, reverse image searches or going to a local animal shelter for your pets instead. If you are a victim of a pet scam, you can contact petscams.com, the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau to make complaints and reports.

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A public meeting was held on July 29th about the rebuilding and relocation of New Bern’s Stanley White Recreation Center.  PRE's Ashlyn DeLoughy has more on the project.


 

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A concept that has been widely debated across the United States recently has made it to Craven County: Critical Race Theory. The Craven County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday night against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Craven County schools. But Craven County’s board of education superintendent has said that this theory isn’t taught in schools, in the county or in the state of North Carolina. 

A bill that would regulate sports gambling across North Carolina and give the state a piece of the revenues is finally getting a hearing this year in the legislature. The Senate Finance Committee prepared for debate Wednesday on a measure that would allow up to 12 companies to obtain sports wagering licenses from the state, and to make clear certain betting isn’t unlawful.  The legislation would have to clear four Senate committees to reach the Senate floor. Many state residents already are wagering online without North Carolina government oversight or regulation.

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An organization is mourning the death of a wild horse that was one of the oldest mares in the herd that roams North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday that Hazel was believed to be close to 30 years old. She didn’t show signs of trauma or any indication that she didn’t die naturally. But her death came when the National Weather Service said some areas of the Outer Banks saw heat index values near 110 degrees. She assumed the role of “honorary grandmother" to the foals and was often seen babysitting them.

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Data released by North Carolina state health officials shows residents are coming in for a COVID-19 vaccine in higher numbers. The numbers published Tuesday show at least 74,000 people got a first dose last week. This is the highest weekly count since mid-May. The rise in vaccinations comes as the more contagious delta variant is being widely spread across the state. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said those who come in for a first dose will soon qualify for $100. Over the past month, hospitalizations due to the virus have nearly quadrupled. The U.S.

A North Carolina city council that voted more than a year ago to remove two Confederate statues has decided to keep them out of downtown for good. News outlets report the Wilmington City Council made the decision on the two statues Monday. In a July 5 letter to the city, officials say a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy asserted its right of possession over the statues and their pedestals and requests the city hold them in storage until it can make arrangements to take possession of them.

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A sitting member of the North Carolina House has died. Republican Rep. Jerry Carter of Rockingham County died early Tuesday at Duke Hospital in Durham at age 66. Carter was senior pastor at Reidsville Baptist, the church he founded more than 30 years ago. Assistant pastor Aaron Shelton says Carter died from complications after surgery to treat a rare gastrointestinal disorder. State leaders praised Carter for his service. He was first elected to the House in 2018, and chaired the Families, Children and Aging Policy Committee.

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State officials say residents in some Northeastern North Carolina counties should avoid coming into contact with an algal bloom in the Chowan River.  Counties currently affected include Chowan and Bertie Counties. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality's Divsion of Water Resources said in a news release that the algal bloom has lingered in the area since July 27, 2021.  The bloom has been observed near Edenton (from Arrowhead Beach to Rockyhock) and Colerain.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on a helicopter crash along the North Carolina coast last month that killed two Virginia men says the helicopter was seen landing in a field and taking off again before the crash. The NTSB says the helicopter was destroyed July 19 when it crashed in the Albemarle Sound, killing the pilot and passenger. About an hour after the helicopter refueled in Virginia, a witness in North Carolina reported seeing a helicopter land in a field about a half-mile from the shoreline, then take off toward Albemarle Sound.

Officials say a Virginia man drowned at a North Carolina beach on Monday. The Town of Emerald Isle says emergency services were called for a report of a man in the water who needed assistance and he was pulled from the water by firefighters and two lifeguards. News outlets report that 36-year-old Joshua Paul Bishop of Roanoke, Virginia, died at Carteret Health Care in Morehead City about an hour later. Yellow flags were flying along the beach Monday as rip current risks were considered low.

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After seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases the past few months, Onslow county is facing a critical lack of staffing in its Emergency Medical Services due to cases of the virus. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.


Legal Aid of North Carolina is seeing strong demand for assistance from residents who cannot afford to pay their rent. The nonprofit law firm that helps low-income renters facing the threat of eviction is inundated with calls and struggling to keep up with demand. Pandemic-induced job loss, a COVID-19 surge fueled by the delta variant and a lack of awareness of state and local rental assistance programs are creating extra cause for concern. The state still has hundreds of millions of unspent dollars available to help cover rental costs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s legal adviser within state government for several years has returned to a private law practice. A law firm in Greenville, South Carolina, announced on Monday that William McKinney is back with the business he worked at in the 2010s. McKinney was general counsel in the governor’s office since Cooper took his gubernatorial oath in January 2017. McKinney led attorneys who offered legal strategies as Cooper issued executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and when he challenged in court legislative actions that lessened his gubernatorial powers.

Massive ticket sales for the North Carolina Education Lottery during the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a best-ever $936 million in annual game profits for education. The lottery announced on Monday that earnings for education during the year ending June 30 grew by 28% compared to the year before. Ticket sales also soared by 26% to $3.8 billion. A lottery leader says consumers played games more because they had few other options for entertainment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says multistate lotteries, scratch-off tickets and a new game called Fast Play also helped.

A 15-year-old visiting Wrightsville Beach needed 15 stitches in his leg after he was bitten by what officials think was a shark. Town Manager Tim Owens said lifeguards and emergency personnel tended to the boy’s injury after he walked out of the water on July 27. The teen’s father, Ivan Nekrasov, says the family was visiting from Tennessee and the teen was in waist-deep water when he was bitten. No one got a good look at what bit the boy, but Wrightsville Beach Fire Department Chief Glen Rogers says they believe it was a shark.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says work to preserve a bridge linking a beach town to the mainland is going to impact residents and beachgoers into next year. The department says in a news release that a lane closure will begin this weekend on the Odell Williamson Bridge on N.C. Highway 904 over the Intracoastal Waterway.  A lane will close overnight Sunday through Thursday. After Labor Day, the department says lane closures will last longer, but no lane will be closed between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

Authorities have charged two North Carolina parents in the death of a 6-week-old baby who a district attorney says may have been exposed to drugs through breast milk. News outlets report the Morehead City Police Department says 20-year-old Mellony McIver and 26-year-old Zackery Phelps — are each facing a second-degree murder charge. Carteret County District Attorney Scott Thomas says investigators are awaiting the infant’s toxicology report, but natural causes have been ruled out in the baby's death.

 A federal freeze on most evictions enacted last year is scheduled to expire Saturday, after President Joe Biden's administration extended the date by a month. The moratorium, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September, was the only tool keeping millions of tenants in their homes. Many of them lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and had fallen months behind on their rent.

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North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday called on all K-12 public school students and staff to wear a mask indoors, even if they are already vaccinated. He'll let his statewide mask mandate expire on Friday. Cooper had previously announced plans last week to let the statewide mask mandate expire and ease masking requirements for high school students starting on Friday. Spread of the more contagious delta variant rose sharply leading up to his earlier announcement and has only continued to skyrocket. Several COVID-19 metrics are at their worst levels in months.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will require all personnel - vaccinated and unvaccinated - to wear a mask in indoor settings while aboard the installation. The requirement takes effect no later than Monday, August 2 at 8 a.m. and applies to all service members, dependents/beneficiaries (retirees), federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors. Camp Lejeune announced the new mask policy following guidance from the Department of Defense in areas of substantial or high community transmission released Wednesday.

A district attorney says the operator of a local news website has been found guilty of extortion resulting from a 2019 incident with a North Carolina lawyer. News outlets report District Attorney Ernie Lee says Gerald Jackson Jr., the operator of “The North Carolina Beat”, was sentenced on Thursday to an active term of 11 months to 23 months. Jackson was found guilty on Tuesday. According to Lee, between Sept. 18 and Sept.

A North Carolina sheriff's office has accused a man of committing sex crimes against two children dating back to 2015. The Pitt County Sheriff's Office says in a news release that 54-year-old Johnny Ray Perry is charged with statutory rape of a child age 15 or younger and two counts of first-degree statutory sex offense. According to the news release, the sheriff's office received a report in August 2020 of a possible sexual assault involving a minor that allegedly occurred years ago. In January, there was another report of a sexual assault involving a different child.

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