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A North Carolina law that gives local courts authority over the release of body camera video has come under a harsh glare after a judge refused to make public footage of deputies shooting and killing Andrew Brown Jr. The 2016 law says that law enforcement video is not a public record and generally cannot be released without court approval. A judge ruled Wednesday that body camera and dashboard footage in Brown's death must be kept from public view for at least another month to avoid harming a state investigation.

Minors could continue to marry in North Carolina but additional limits would be set in legislation approved by a state Senate committee. Current law allows children as young as 14 to get married. Youths who are 16 or 17 can marry with parental consent, while those 14 and 15 can marry if a pregnancy is involved and a judge signs off. The proposal approved on Wednesday would retain the current restrictions, but no one age 14 to 17 could marry a partner who is more than four years older. Some child marriage opponents still want a bill barring anyone under 18 from marrying.

North Carolina Senate Republicans have unveiled a criminal justice reform package that includes databases to discourage misbehaving North Carolina law enforcement officers from remaining on the job and expanded mental health assistance for others. The measure debated in a judiciary committee Wednesday is a retooled bill developed during a time of national focus on racial inequity and officer-involved shootings of Black residents. The measure received endorsements from several law enforcement groups and the state’s local prosecutors.

NC DPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has decided to lift the state's outdoor mask mandate. He is also increasing indoor and outdoor gathering limits. Starting Friday, 100 people can assemble indoors and 200 people may gather outdoors. The Democratic governor has said he hopes to further ease restrictions and possibly eliminate the mask mandate altogether if at least two-thirds of North Carolina adults are at least partially vaccinated. Nearly half of adults have gotten at least one COVID-19 shot. The U.S.

A judge has denied requests to release body camera video in the case of a Black man who killed by North Carolina deputies. The decision came Wednesday shortly after a North Carolina prosecutor said that Andrew Brown Jr. had hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire. District Attorney Andrew Womble told a judge at a hearing that he viewed body camera video and disagreed with a characterization by attorneys for Brown’s family that his car was stationary when the shooting started.

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North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd has announced his bid to become the state's next U.S. Senator. He's looking to fill an open seat being left by GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Budd presently faces competition from Republicans former Rep. Mark Walker and former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. Budd called the Senate “the last line of defense” for Republicans and is looking to tip the chamber's balance back in favor of Republicans. State Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley are the top Democrats seeking their party's nomination for the 2022 election.

A North Carolina prosecutor says that a Black man killed by deputies hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire. District Attorney Andrew Womble told a judge at a hearing Wednesday that he viewed body camera video and disagreed with a characterization by attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. that his car was stationary when the shooting started. Womble said the video shows that Brown’s car made contact with law enforcement twice before shots could be heard on the video.

A funeral will be held next week for Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by North Carolina deputies, with the Rev. Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy.  Lawyers for Brown’s family said that the funeral will be held Monday in Elizabeth City. Other details of the arrangements were still being settled. Brown was shot and killed last week by Pasquotank County deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants. Relative Lee Ferebee said Brown’s family asked Sharpton to deliver the eulogy because they felt the civil rights leader would honor his legacy.

Senate Republicans still angry over a legal settlement reached between the State Board of Elections and a union-affiliated group over counting 2020 election absentee ballots approved legislation on Tuesday designed to keep legislators in the loop on future agreements.

The measure says the attorney general can't enter into settlements involving certain litigation in which top legislative leaders are parties or have formally intervened unless those leaders first sign off on them.

"Tax Forms and Calculator" by 401(K) 2013 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

North Carolina income tax filers won’t have to pay interest on payments turned in by the new May 17 deadline in a bill receiving final legislative approval. The legislation now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk after the Senate approved it unanimously on Tuesday. The House approved it earlier. The legislation addresses a result from an IRS decision to push its traditional April 15 deadline by one month. State Revenue Secretary Ron Penny extended the North Carolina income tax deadline on his own.

Legislation has cleared a Senate committee that would make more details public about the personnel history of North Carolina state and local government employees. The measure is backed by the North Carolina Press Association. It would expand information that government employers would have to disclose to the media or citizens to include descriptions of why a worker was demoted, suspended or transferred.  A press association attorney told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that 35 other states already require that level of disclosure.

An independent autopsy shows that a Black man killed by deputies in North Carolina was shot five times, including in the back of the head. That's according to attorneys for Andrew Brown Jr.'s family. The death certificate lists a head wound as the cause of death. In other developments Tuesday, the FBI announced a federal civil rights investigation into last week’s shooting by deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants in the North Carolina town of Elizabeth City. A court hearing scheduled for Wednesday will consider making the video public.

The first Black woman to serve as chief justice on North Carolina's highest court has announced her entry into the state's U.S. Senate race. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced her campaign on Tuesday. She joins four other Democrats vying for the party nomination for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Beasley is the only Democrat in the race who has won a statewide contest. Whoever wins the primary will advance to a costly general election fight that could determine whether Democrats maintain their power in the chamber.

U.S. Census Bureau

North Carolina has gained another seat in Congress. The U.S. Census Bureau said North Carolina’s resident population was 10.44 million in April 2020, up 9.5% from a decade earlier. The numbers released Monday reflect a steadily growing population as people arrive for jobs and retirement. The additional U.S. House seat is the 14th for North Carolina. It marks the third time in the past four census cycles that the state will have increased the size of its congressional delegation.

Attorneys for the family of a Black man killed by deputies in North Carolina say he was shot in the back of the head and had his hands on the car steering wheel when they opened fire. Their comments came Monday after body camera video was shown to Andrew Brown Jr.'s relatives. Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter watched a 20-second portion of the video with the family and said Brown did not appear to be a threat to officers as he backed his vehicle out and tried to drive away. Brown's death last Wednesday led to nightly protests in the town of Elizabeth City.

NCDPS

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper recalled the pain and courage stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and pitched for cooperation with legislative Republicans during his State of the State address. Cooper gave the televised speech Monday night to a joint session of the General Assembly in the House chamber. He mourned the deaths of more than 12,500 people from the coronavirus in North Carolina while praising the work of medical workers, teachers and the National Guard. He asked GOP lawmakers to work with him to expand Medicaid, boost teacher pay and build infrastructure. 

New court documents say a search warrant being served when deputies shot and killed a Black man in North Carolina says that investigators used information from an informant, including recordings of drug buys. The search warrant has been cited as the reason that deputies came to Andrew Brown Jr.’s house last Wednesday. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has said that deputies shot and killed Brown while serving drug-related search and arrest warrants but released few other details.

NCDPS

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is giving his biennial address to a joint session of the General Assembly. Monday night’s televised State of the State address is happening later on the calendar than usual due to safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. This marks Cooper’s third State of the State address and first since he was reelected in November. House Speaker Tim Moore will deliver the Republican response to Cooper’s speech. GOP leaders and Cooper have spoken about finding consensus on the state budget and other issues following past political rancor between them.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President Biden is addressing a joint session of Congress on the eve of 100 days in office. Watch his remarks live Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Authorities say seven North Carolina deputies have been placed on leave in the aftermath of a Black man being shot and killed by members of their department serving drug-related search and arrest warrants. The disclosure comes as calls increase for the release of deputy body camera footage amid signs that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back and killed as he was trying to drive away. Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Aaron Wallio confirmed the number of deputies on leave due to the shooting. Gov.

A longtime member of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s state executive committee has been rebuked after he accused a U.S. Senate candidate of exaggerating the number of Black people killed in American history. Former state Sen. Erica Smith is a Democrat who is seeking to become North Carolina’s first Black U.S. senator. She sent an email to supporters after the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

Leaders of a North Carolina city where a Black man was shot and killed by deputies serving search and drug-related warrants are planning to urge a court to release body camera video of the shooting. The calls for transparency come amid growing concern that Andrew Brown Jr. was killed as he was fleeing. A notice posted by the City Council in Elizabeth City said it intended on Friday to have the city attorney petition a local court to make the video public. In North Carolina, a judge must generally sign off on release of body camera footage.

Two high-profile Black leaders in North Carolina differed greatly on congressional intervention in state elections while addressing U.S. House committee members this week. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson told a House judiciary subcommittee on Thursday that he opposed a measure approved by the chamber last month that places new demands on federal elections run by states, But the Rev. William Barber of Goldsboro said the “For The People” measure is needed to "enact full protections of our sacred right to vote” following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

NC Coastal Land Trust

One of North Carolina’s last privately owned undeveloped barrier islands will soon be conserved.  The 2-mile long Hutaff Island, located between Lea Island and Topsail Beach, serves as nesting grounds for sea turtles and shorebirds. The island also has more than 1,000 acres of tidal marsh and creeks that serve as nursery habitat for fish, shrimp, and crabs.

An effort to stop the biannual clock adjustments in North Carolina required to comply with daylight saving time rules has passed the state House. The chamber voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for legislation that would move clocks up an hour for good, but only should Congress first pass a law allowing states to act. The measure now goes to the Senate. Some supporters of permanent daylight saving time say it will expand outdoor recreation activities in the evenings. But critics point out it would mean more dark mornings going to school and work.

The North Carolina House has approved legislation that would provide several hundred million dollars in state income tax breaks for businesses and the unemployed. The bill received near unanimous support on Thursday and now heads to the Senate, where its future is unclear. The bill would give additional breaks to businesses by letting them deduct expenses paid for with proceeds from federal Paycheck Protection Program loans. The measure also would exempt from income taxes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits that filers received in 2020.

Relatives and friends of Andrew Brown Jr. say he had a smile that belied a lifetime of loss and troubles with the law. They say he was a doting father who was quick to crack a joke and was determined to make sure his children had better lives than he had. The 42-year-old Elizabeth City, North Carolina, man was shot to death Wednesday by a deputy sheriff trying to serve a search warrant. The shooting has prompted protests and demands for accountability.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The North Carolina General Assembly's top Republicans say 2022 election dates likely won’t be altered despite anticipated delays in receiving data for redistricting. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger made the comments Thursday. The Census Bureau won't provide detailed population numbers needed to redraw district boundaries for Congress, the legislature and for dozens of municipalities until August or September.

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

North Carolina has set aside money to reimburse farmers who bear the economic toll of quarantining their workers during the COVID-19 outbreak last year. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the state has made $2 million available for farmers who employ immigrant farmworkers with H-2A work visas that allow them to work temporarily in the U.S. Funding for the department’s COVID-19 Farmworker Quarantine Reimbursement program comes from federal CARES Act money approved by the state legislature.

A North Carolina sheriff says the deputy who shot and killed a man while serving a search warrant has been put on leave pending an investigation. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II did not identify the deputy who fired the shot Wednesday. He told a news conference that the deputy was wearing a body camera that was on at the time. The State Bureau of Investigation is taking over the inquiry of the case and will turn over its results to District Attorney Andrew Womble's office. Womble says he won't make any decisions about possible charges until the investigation is complete.

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