Associated Press

Wolf Haven International

Federal wildlife officials overseeing the world’s only wild population of endangered red wolves announced they are abandoning a 2018 plan to limit the animals’ territory and loosen protections for wolves that strayed from that area in eastern North Carolina. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement Wednesday as part of an ongoing federal court battle with conservation groups that argue the federal agency violated the Endangered Species Act by abandoning strategies that supported the wild population of wolves.

NCDHHS

Few North Carolina parents had their children vaccinated in the first days COVID-19 shots were available for kids age 5 to 11. State data shows more than 24,000 kids in the age group got the vaccine within the first five days it was administered. This represents less than 3% of the almost 900,000 children eligible in the age group. Dr. Mandy Cohen leads the state Department of Health and Human Services. She said she got her two daughters vaccinated once the kid-sized Pfizer shots became available.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Joe Gratz is marked with CC0 1.0

A North Carolina trial judge has ordered the state to pay out $1.75 billion to help narrow the state’s public education inequities. The move angered Republicans who said the directive usurps lawmakers’ constitutional authority over the state coffers. Superior Court Judge David Lee said Wednesday that the state has failed to act decisively since a 2004 court ruling declared the state has fallen short giving children the “opportunity to receive a sound basic education.” Republican legislators say Lee's directive violates the state constitution.

Gerrymandering is surging in states where legislatures are in charge of redrawing voting districts used to elect members of Congress. A new map passed by North Carolina's Republican-led legislature could net several new seats for the GOP — providing a big boost in the party's quest to retake the U.S. House next year. But that could be canceled out in Illinois, where Democrats who control the legislature adopted a new map designed to elect as many Democrats as possible. Lawmakers in other states also have been using 2020 census data to draw districts beneficial to their own parties.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Joe Gratz is marked with CC0 1.0

Longstanding education funding litigation in North Carolina could reach a watershed if a judge orders money be spent over the wishes of the General Assembly. Superior Court Judge David Lee scheduled a hearing Wednesday in which he’ll consider options on how to carry out two years of a remedial spending plan offered by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Education. Plaintiffs in the so-called “Leandro” lawsuit want Lee to direct $1.7 billion to go to three agencies. Republicans who control the legislature say only the General Assembly can appropriate funds in state coffers.

NCDOT

A storm at the North Carolina coast has closed a section of the only road linking Hatteras Island to the mainland. The state Department of Transportation said N.C. Highway 12 was closed starting Sunday morning from Rodanthe north to the Marc Basnight Bridge at Oregon Inlet due to ocean overwash that breached dunes protecting the road. The department said the stretch could remain closed through Tuesday, since crews must clear the road and rebuild dunes.

Legislation to authorize and regulate sports gambling in North Carolina has reemerged in a House committee more than two months after it passed the Senate. A House committee voted Thursday for a measure would direct the North Carolina lottery to issue between 10 and 12 interactive sports wagering operator licenses. College, professional and some amateur sports could be wagered on. The state would collect a tax on an operator’s adjusted gross revenues. Bill supporters say betting is already happening within North Carolina’s borders through offshore online websites or local bookies.

Lawsuits filed by North Carolina’s attorney general against 14 manufacturers of a fire suppressant claim the makers caused a public nuisance, created a design defect, failed to warn their customers and fraudulently transferred corporate assets to shield their profits. Attorney General Josh Stein said in a news release Thursday that his office filed four lawsuits which named 3M, Corteva, and DuPont, among others.

The North Carolina General Assembly has finalized maps for the state’s legislative and congressional districts that are supposed to last for the next decade. The House and Senate voted Thursday for the lines drawn based on 2020 census figures for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegation. Republicans would largely fare well under the plans. Democrats and their allies say the maps contain illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders. One lawsuit was filed last week and more could be coming. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp can’t block redistricting plans.

The North Carolina General Assembly is about to finalize maps for the state’s legislative and congressional districts that are supposed to last for the next decade. The House and Senate scheduled floor sessions Thursday to debate and vote on the lines drawn based on 2020 census figures. Maps for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegation had already passed one chamber by Wednesday. Republicans would largely fare well under the plans. Democrats and their allies say the maps contain illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it's reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against a North Carolina county alleging that an emergency communications unit engaged in unlawful retaliation when it fired a worker who told supervisors that she had been sexually harassed on the job. A news release from the department on Wednesday says a consent decree calls on Wilson County to develop and submit for approval revised discrimination and retaliation policies, investigation procedures for complaints of discrimination and trainings that will apply countywide.

North Carolina Republicans are nearing final passage of their congressional and legislative redistricting for the next decade. The full Senate voted Wednesday for a GOP-drawn map for the districts for its 50 seats. Redistricting committees later advanced a map for the House’s 120 legislative districts and boundaries for North Carolina’s 14 U.S. House seats. Final votes on all three maps are expected on Thursday. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto doesn’t apply to redistricting maps, so litigation will be where map opponents can seek redress.

North Carolina health officials are starting to receive some of the more than 400,000 Pfizer vaccines they expect get in the coming week for children ages 5 to 11. Federal regulators recently signed off on the kid-sized doses to protect against COVID-19. The shots will be available at federal pharmacy sites, such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as local health offices. The shots coming into the state will cover most of the nearly 893,000 North Carolina youngsters in that age range.

Redistricting plans that enlarge North Carolina’s congressional delegation and retool the state House seats have now each cleared one legislative chamber. The House voted along party lines Tuesday for a map that redraws the chamber’s 120 districts, which are based on population changes recorded in the 2020 census. If they withstand litigation, the new boundaries should keep Republicans in a good position to retain the majority they've held since 2011. The full Senate also approved a new congressional plan that would seat 14 U.S. House members from the state.

A North Carolina state agency says it's filed a lawsuit seeking to force Colonial Pipeline to meet obligations resulting from a gasoline spill that was found to be far worse than the company initially reported.

Dozens of North Carolina House Democrats left the chamber when Republicans seated a new member who has said he was just outside the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection in January. All but a handful of Democratic caucus members left their desks for the exits as Rep. Donnie Loftis of Gaston County took the oath of office Monday evening. Gaston Republican activists picked Loftis to succeed the late Rep. Dana Bumgardner. Loftis has said he had “zero involvement in the rioting” and condemned how others went inside. At least one Democrat said Loftis' rally participation crossed the line.

Contaminated water is being blamed for the death of a wild horse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. News outlets report that the Corolla Wild Horse Fund announced that an 8-year-old stallion known as Taco died last week. The horse was known because of a lump he had on his hip. The group says he’s the fourth stallion in the last two years to die due to bacteria or other contaminants in the water. The group has collected water from various locations in the horse's territory and will send it out for testing.

North Carolina Republicans have advanced a proposed congressional district map that would make it easier for the state GOP to increase its number of seats on Capitol Hill. A Senate committee voted Monday for a redistricting plan that reflects population gains counted during the 2020 census that yielded a new 14th seat for North Carolina. The plan, if enacted, would put Republicans in a strong position to win 10 of those seats beginning with the 2022 elections. State Republicans currently hold an 8-5 seat advantage.

The North Carolina General Assembly is starting to debate redistricting maps drawn by lawmakers for legislative and congressional seats. Senate and House committees are scheduled to meet Monday to consider boundaries based on 2020 census figures. Republican lawmakers hope to give final approval to congressional and legislative lines by the end of the week. The GOP controls both the state House and Senate, so legislative maps they pitch are expected to help them retain their majorities. Redistricting experts say a proposed plan to redraw U.S.

Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson says he’s fairly certain he will run for governor in 2024, rather than seek a second term in his current post. He said in a public conference call posted this week that he was “95% sure” of a gubernatorial run. Robinson was elected lieutenant governor last November in his first bid for political office. Current Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper can’t seek reelection again due to term limits. Robinson has faced recent resignation demands after comments he made about sex education in schools that critics say disparaged LGBTQ people.

One of several legal challenges to North Carolina’s contentious voter ID law is on hold amid a dispute over whether two justices on the state Supreme Court should recuse themselves. The state NAACP’s request that Phil Berger Jr. and ex-Sen. Tamara Barringer be disqualified further clouds the future of photo voter ID requirements in one of the numerous Republican-dominated states where lawmakers have sought them. Federal appeals judges struck down a previous version of a North Carolina voter ID law approved in 2013.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and his brother-in-law are under investigation for insider trading. Recently filed federal court documents show the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing their abrupt sales of financial holdings during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Burr is among a group of lawmakers from both parties who stirred outrage over their aggressive trading in the early days of the pandemic, before the economic threat of the virus was widely known.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell says many North Carolina nonprofit hospitals are falling short in treating the poor for free or reduced rates to validate their tax-exempt status. Folwell made the comments Wednesday while discussing a report that Johns Hopkins University developed with help from the State Health Plan. The report found that in a recent year a majority of the state’s largest nonprofit hospital systems failed to generate charity care spending that exceeded 60% of the value of each system’s tax breaks.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says he's still hopeful that he and Republican lawmakers can hammer out a state budget that he can sign into law. The Democratic governor made the comments Wednesday during a COVID-19 news conference. Budget negotiations began a month ago when House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger sent Cooper their first offer on a two-year spending plan. The fiscal year began July 1. The governor declined to put a timetable on completing negotiations. Moore suggested they could end next week, with or without a deal.

NCDHHS

The spread of COVID-19 has dropped substantially in North Carolina in recent weeks. The latest statistics released by state health officials on Tuesday show cases and hospitalizations at their lowest levels in about three months. The share of tests coming back positive have also declined noticeably. The development comes as the state struggles to convince more unvaccinated residents to come in for a shot. Meanwhile, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 boosters are now available to more North Carolinians who have already been vaccinated.

A top North Carolina Republican lawmaker says legislative action on a final state government budget could happen as soon as next week, with or without formal support from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters Tuesday that he, Senate leader Phil Berger and House and Senate Democratic leaders met in person Friday with Cooper to negotiate. Moore said Republicans could act after receiving another Cooper offer. The governor and GOP leaders could agree to a plan that Cooper can sign, or lawmakers could go forward without Cooper’s support.

Speakers at a public hearing on North Carolina redistricting want Republicans to shelve proposed congressional district maps. They say the maps would likely give the GOP most of the seats and needlessly fracture the state’s largest counties. The House and Senate redistricting committees held meetings Monday to receive input on U.S. House maps that Republicans and Democrats have created. It’s the next step before the legislature begins voting on the plans. Lawmakers are hoping by early next month to enact new maps for use starting with next year’s elections.

NCDPS

What works and what doesn't when it comes to encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19? A new study in North Carolina shows that offering $25 to people getting their first shot was an important factor. Less successful, however, was the state's rollout of a $4.5 million lottery package that ultimately went to just eight winners. The report was released Monday by researchers with the state Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The public is getting multiple chances this week to tell North Carolina legislators what they think about U.S. House and General Assembly district boundary proposals that lawmakers have been drawing. The House and Senate redistricting committees scheduled four hearings over Monday and Tuesday to take input on maps that Republicans and Democrats have created. It’s the next step before the legislature begins voting on the plans. The legislature is aiming to enact by early November new maps for use starting with next year’s elections. One of the two hearings each day will be online only.

The federal government is shutting down the harvest of an important species of fish for the rest of the year because of concerns about overfishing. Fishermen from Maine to North Carolina commercially harvest Atlantic mackerel, which is used as food as well as bait. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it closed the fishery starting Oct. 15. NOAA says the most recent assessment of the species found that it is overfished and the level of overfishing has increased slightly.

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