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A North Carolina state legislator is recovering at home after he tested positive for COVID-19 recently and was hospitalized. The director of the House Republican Caucus said Tuesday that Rep. Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County and his wife both were diagnosed with the coronavirus. Kidwell said by social media that he returned home from Vidant Beaufort Hospital over the weekend. His wife is back home now, too. Kidwell is an income tax return preparer now in his second House term. He’s chairman of the House Freedom Caucus at the General Assembly.

A former correctional unit housing manager at a North Carolina prison is facing several drug-related charges after law enforcement officials say she was caught bringing marijuana into the prison. The Daily Advance reports Vanessa Uniqua Spence of Elizabeth City was arrested last week and charged with possession of a controlled substance while in a prison facility and possession of drug paraphernalia. Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten says drugs were found on Spence during a routine search of prison staff at Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

A new law says someone who’s been convicted of a felony can’t run for sheriff in North Carolina, even if the crime has been officially expunged from the person’s record. It's one of five bills from the General Assembly that Gov. Roy Cooper said he signed into law on Monday.  The bill clarifies how to implement a 2010 addition to North Carolina’s constitution barring convicted felons from running for the post.

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North Carolina health officials say medically vulnerable residents with certain health conditions can get an additional does of COVID-19 vaccine. Some in the state have already gotten a third Pfizer or Moderna shot after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it last week. Data from the state Department of Health and Human Services shows COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the share of tests coming back positive at their worst levels in more than six months. Lack of demand for vaccines has contributed to tens of thousands of doses being thrown out.

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Onslow County reported Monday two new deaths attributed to COVID-19. 169 people have died due to the virus in the county since the pandemic began.  Since August 9th, Onslow has had over 1,200 new COVID-19 cases. The county’s positive test rate has reached over 15% while the state’s positive test rate is at about 13%.  In a news release, Onslow health officials say that the spike in cases is mostly among the unvaccinated, but that everyone should take precautions to protect their health, including getting vaccinated.

An official in a North Carolina town says the mayor has died from COVID-19. WITN reports Oak City Town Clerk Vonetta Porter says Mayor William Stalls died on Sunday. There were no additional details on his death. Stalls, who worked for 43 years with Oak City Fire & EMS, served as an EMT and treasurer. Mayor Pro Tem Sue Harrell says Stalls had been hospitalized for three weeks. Harrell says Town Commissioner Joey Brown died from the virus in July 2020.

A state trial has started in a lawsuit challenging when voting rights are restored for convicted felons in North Carolina. Three Superior Court judges heard opening statements and testimony in Wake County court Monday. Several civil rights groups and ex-offenders sued legislative leaders and state officials in 2019. They allege the rules violate the state constitution and unduly hurt Black residents. Felons can register to vote again once they complete all aspects of their sentence, including probation and parole.

Two stone pedestals that once held Confederate monuments in a North Carolina city have been removed. The StarNews reports that the two pedestals, one that once held a statue of Confederate Attorney General George Davis and another that held a memorial to Confederate war dead, were removed Sunday. Last year, officials in Wilmington cited public safety concerns following weeks of Black Lives Matter protests when the statues were removed and stored away last year. Earlier this month, the Wilmington City Council voted 6-1 to permanently remove the pedestals too.

North Carolina officials say personal information for nearly 85,000 state employees was mistakenly uploaded to an internal portal. Department of Information Technology and Office of State Human Resources announced in a news release last week that a file containing the names, Social Security numbers and employment information of 84,860 employees was uploaded to an internal website. Officials say the file was discovered July 30 and immediately removed. The News & Observer reports that a letter to affected employees states that the file had been accessible since May 2020.

North Carolina has recently developed a dubious reputation: as a regional destination for adults who want to marry children. State lawmakers are nearing passage of a bill that could dampen the state’s appeal as the go-to place to bring child brides. The proposed legislation would raise the minimum marriage age from 14 to 16 and limit the age difference between a 16-year-old and their spouse to four years. A study by the International Center for Research on Women estimates that nearly 8,800 minors were listed on marriage licenses in North Carolina from 2000-2015.

The North Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that the North Carolina Railroad Co. can withhold documents from the public even though it's fully owned by the state. A majority of justices upheld on Friday a lower court ruling that involved a 2019 lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center against the railroad. The group wanted railroad records after a Triangle-area passenger rail project fell apart. The railroad owns over 300 miles of rail from Charlotte to Morehead City.

The North Carolina House on Thursday approved a two-year budget with enough support to thwart a potential veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. But the budget process is far from over. The Republican-controlled House and Senate still need to work out many differences between their two plans, particularly about the size of tax cuts and state worker pay raises. They’ll also need to negotiate with Cooper. House Democrats on Thursday were unsuccessful in passing an amendment that sought to strike down provisions of the budget they viewed as problematic.

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As the start of the fall semester approaches for Eastern North Carolina public schools, the districts have had to make tough decisions on whether to mandate mask wearing. In light of the recent increases in COVID-19 cases, some schools decided to require them indoors while others are taking the optional approach.

Charlotte is one of 14 U.S. cities that gained more than 100,000 residents from 2010 to 2020, but Wake County solidified its spot as North Carolina's most populous county, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.

The numbers show North Carolina grew by 9.5% over the past decade, to 10.4 million residents, outpacing the national average of 7.4% and making it the 16th fastest-growing state.

Onslow County set a new one-day record for COVID-19 cases.  A total of 317 cases were reported Wednesday.  That breaks the previous record of 278, which was set on Jan. 5, 2021. The total number of positive cases since the pandemic began is now at 20,552. The county's test positivity rate is now at 13.6%.  According to a news release, the spike in COVID-19 cases is mostly among people who are unvaccinated.  Onslow Health officials urged everyone to take precautions to protect their health, including getting a vaccine.

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The Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the state and now Pitt County is at high risk for unvaccinated individuals. Ashlyn DeLoughy has more.


The North Carolina House has given initial approval to a two-year state government budget. The chamber voted 72-41 late Wednesday for the proposal, which contains several billion dollars in cash for infrastructure spending. Republicans who drew up the plan also praised teacher pay raises and tax cuts contained inside. Senate Republicans who passed a competing budget in June. The House must give one more affirmative vote on Thursday before the two chambers begin negotiating a final budget plan. Democratic Gov.

An effort to raise the minimum age to get married in North Carolina from 14 to 16 is nearing final legislative approval. The House voted unanimously on Wednesday for the measure, which also would require a 16- or 17-year-old to obtain formal legal permission to marry. The spouses of these youths could be no more than four years older than them. The Senate already passed a similar version of the bill in May but it needs to take one more vote before the legislation can go to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. Bill sponsors initially sought to raise the minimum age to 18.

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A series of virtual meetings are underway after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) initiated an environmental review of the first proposed wind energy project off the North Carolina coast.

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House Republicans are trumpeting their North Carolina budget proposal for an education construction spree and for teacher raises. But Democratic colleagues on Tuesday said the GOP spending for education is not enough to meet requirements of the state constitution. They’re using a judge’s order in the “Leandro" school funding litigation to press their case at a time of massive surpluses. Democrats want Republicans to fully fund the first two years of a remedial plan the judge signed.

Interest in COVID-19 vaccines has surged in the week since North Carolina’s governor announced that his administration would boost the financial incentive from $25 to $100 for unvaccinated residents who come in for their first shot this month. State health officials are hopeful that more people will choose to get vaccinated now that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has decided to heed President Joe Biden’s advice to give out $100 rewards. Drivers who take people in for their first shot remain eligible for one $25 prepaid credit card.

The in-house attorney for North Carolina’s lieutenant governor was arrested and charged with resisting or obstructing state Alcohol Law Enforcement officers. News outlets report that Brian LiVecchi, general counsel for Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s office, was arrested Friday at The BrickHouse Bar & Grill in Fuquay-Varina.

Peter Francia

A bill that recently advanced through the senate finance committee in the North Carolina General Assembly would legalize sports gambling in the state-- and tax it’s revenue. ECU’s Center for Survey Research released a poll showing that a majority of North Carolinians support legalizing sports betting. 

A North Carolina Senate committee has voted to advance a measure that would impose tougher penalties on those who engage in violent protests. House Speaker Tim Moore said his plan will better protect businesses and law enforcement from violence and property damage similar to what he saw take place in Raleigh last year after the death of George Floyd. Some Democrats worry the bill will have a chilling effect by making people less willing to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. Moore's bill was approved by the House earlier this year.

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina House Republicans have rolled out a two-year spending plan they say would put more money toward infrastructure projects and pay teachers and state employees more than what the Senate voted for in June. House GOP leaders held a Monday news conference about the plan, which wouldn’t cut income tax rates as much as what Republican senators support. The full House should approve its proposal by Thursday. That will set up negotiations between the House and Senate. Democratic Gov.

Legislation to license and tax sports betting in North Carolina has cleared another state Senate committee. The proposal approved Monday by the Senate judiciary committee is supported by many Democrats and Republicans. The bill advanced despite concerns that the measure will increase the number of residents addicted to gambling. It must now clear two additional committees before heading to the Senate floor for a full vote. If the bill passes and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signs it into law, the state lottery commission would issue 10 to 12 interactive wagering operator licenses.

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The positive COVID-19 test rate for Carteret County has increased in the last few weeks. This increase echoes the statewide influx of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of July-- linked to the highly contagious Delta variant. 

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says in his memo that he will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon FDA licensure, whichever comes first.

North Carolina House Republicans are ready this week to advance its two-year state government spending proposal. The House Finance Committee scheduled a meeting Monday to examine the tax portions of the budget proposal that chamber members have been working on for several weeks. The full House could finish voting on the measure by Thursday. The Senate approved its version of the budget back in June. House and Senate Republicans ultimately will have to negotiate a final spending plan. Democratic Gov.

North Carolina’s tax windfall for the last fiscal year turned out even larger than the bonanza that state government economists predicted would arrive. The Office of State Budget and Management reports that the state collected $29.7 billion in revenues during the year that ended June 30. That’s $190 million more than the consensus forecast reached in mid-June with General Assembly analysts. That June forecast had already bumped up the anticipated collections by a massive $1.9 billion. That massive jump was attributed to a resurgent post-pandemic economy.

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