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North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly is slowing down this week as lawmakers prepare for budget negotiations and action on other measures during August. The state Senate plans no recorded floor votes until next week, while House leaders say they’ll take up legislation in floor sessions only on Monday evening and Tuesday. This week’s break is happening largely because some Republicans are traveling to a conference. Senate leader Phil Berger says his chamber is also awaiting the House to approve its version of the state government budget.

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Former Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory wants to have three debates with U.S. Rep. Tedd Budd and former Rep. Mark Walker. The three Republican candidates are competing for the party's nomination for an open 2022 U.S. Senate seat. McCrory raised the most money in the latest reporting period but Budd has seen an uptick in momentum after getting the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. McCrory announced on Thursday that he would like one of the primary debates in the late fall and the other two in early 2022. Walker agreed to the debates.

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Commercial fishermen sold nearly 20% less fish and shellfish to North Carolina seafood dealers in 2020, a decline from the previous year that's being blamed on the state's stay-at-home order brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries says in a news release that commercial fishermen sold 42.9 million pounds of fish and shellfish last year, a decrease of 19% from 2019 and about a 23% decrease from the previous five-year average.

Major hospital systems across North Carolina will soon require workers to get a COVID-19 shot if they want to keep working at the facilities. The decision comes as state health officials warn of a rise in cases fueled by the delta variant. Communities with large unvaccinated populations have been particularly hard hit. The state Healthcare Association said on Thursday that Duke Health, Atrium Health and many UNC Health hospitals will soon compel workers to get vaccinated. Dr.

Authorities say the bodies of two brothers from Virginia have been found after the helicopter they were traveling in disappeared off the North Carolina coast. The Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office says officials were notified Thursday that the body of one man was found in the Albemarle Sound. Responders recovered the body of John Arant and a short time later, they found the body of his brother, Alan, who was the pilot of the aircraft. Emergency responders began their search after a concerned friend notified officials that they lost communication with the helicopter Monday evening.

Colleagues of the late North Carolina Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin are remembering her as a trailblazer for women in public service who accomplished much during a life cut short by cancer. The House and Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday remembering Goodwin, who died last September at age 50. Goodwin served in the state House from 2005 through 2010. She also made state history by becoming the first lawmaker to give birth while holding office in 2008. Goodwin later served on the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

The state of North Carolina and scores of local governments could receive $750 million combined from a $26 billion proposed national settlement with several opioid producers. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office gave out the figure on Wednesday. He was one of several attorneys general who negotiated the settlement.  A memorandum of agreement between North Carolina and local governments directs 15% of the state’s settlement share be earmarked for the General Assembly to spend. The rest would go to all 100 counties and some municipalities.

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North Carolina health officials and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced they will eliminate the statewide mask mandate and ease masking requirements in schools. The new recommendations released on Wednesday urge K-8 schools to require masks for students and staff while they are indoors but allows fully vaccinated high school students and staff to be unmasked. The mask mandate expires at 5 p.m. on July 30. That's the same time the updated school reopening guidance takes effect.

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Legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use in North Carolina has advanced through another state Senate panel. Members of the Senate Finance Committee voted for the legislation on Wednesday. The bill would allow patients of who have of several “debilitating medical conditions” like cancer, epilepsy or HIV to purchase and use marijuana products. Ten marijuana producers licensed by a new state commission could open four stores each. The measure still must go through two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.

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Legislation that would end the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s century-long role overseeing state interscholastic sports has cleared a Senate committee. The Republican-authored bill recommended on Wednesday would create a new North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission. It would enforce student eligibility rules from the State Board of Education and adopt and enforce game rules and sportsmanship standards. Bill supporters say the association isn’t using its power to primarily benefit student-athletes and its member schools.

A bill in North Carolina would require children to get parental permission before they could receive COVID-19 vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use. The parent or guardian requirement is contained in a bill approved by a Senate committee on Wednesday that also would expand the types of medications that immunizing pharmacists can administer. Currently only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children from 12 to 17. North Carolina law currently allows these children to make this vaccination decision.

The family of a North Carolina woman killed in a crash with a sheriff’s deputy will receive $1.25 million in a settlement agreement. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports 63-year-old Shirley Ann James was killed in a January crash with a Johnston County Sheriff's Office patrol car driven by 24-year-old Deputy Quinton Rhue. According to reports, Rhue had been driving with his lights and siren on when he began to pass traffic on U.S. Highway 301. James was traveling in the same direction and was turning when she was struck by Rhue’s patrol car.

USS North Carolina Battleship

A nearly four-year project to repair the hull of the USS North Carolina battleship is complete. News outlets report the cofferdam surrounding the battleship was flooded with water from the Cape Fear River on Tuesday to mark completion of the repairs. A Wilmington-based company cut and replaced steel on the bow and also repainted affected areas of the hull. The battleship arrived in Wilmington in 1961 after serving in World War II. It's suffered over 50 years of corrosion from the Cape Fear River and plans to repair the ship’s hull have been on the table since at least 2010.

North Carolina's unemployment rate has fallen for the ninth consecutive month. The state Commerce Department reports the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.6% in June, compared to 4.8% in May. It's a streak of declining rates going back to October.  Data released by the agency show more people entered North Carolina’s labor force and were hired in June compared to the month before. Figures in May had signaled a decline in the number of people actively seeking work.

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At the same time the North Carolina Zoo is seeing a huge increase in visitors compared with last year, it’s struggling to find staff to keep all of its exhibits open.  Diane Villa is director of communications and marketing for the zoo in Asheboro zoo. She tells The Courier-Tribune the zoo is having trouble finding applicants “like just about every other business out there.” The newspaper reports most attractions are open, but certain features like an obstacle course and feeding activities have remained closed.

Law enforcement in North Carolina have arrested a woman who they they say posed as a member of the military and scammed a person out of more than $7,000. The Pitt County Sheriff's Office received a report that a resident met a woman on an online dating site who said she needed money to ship her belongings home from overseas. Investigators determined the woman was using a fake name and identified her as a 63-year-old woman from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Multiple charges were filed against the suspect, and she was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley was the top overall fundraiser in her bid to fill an open U.S. Senate seat in 2022. Ex-Gov. Pat McCrory was close behind and brought in the most money among the three main Republican primary candidates in the latest reporting period. State Sen. Jeff Jackson is Beasley's top Democratic rival and remains competitive. Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd got former President Donald Trump's endorsement last month but hasn't gotten as much a financial boost from it as some may have expected.

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North Carolina health officials have unveiled the state’s latest recipients of a $1 million cash prize and $125,000 college scholarship for getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Natalie Everett of Pineville won the $1 million before taxes. High school student and Greensboro resident Jessica Klima earned the $125,000 scholarship. The winners were selected on Thursday. Two more contests will be held on July 21 and Aug. 4. The winners will be announced the week after the drawings. North Carolina's latest winners were chosen at a time when fewer residents are getting vaccinated.

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Leaders of the agencies that provide blood to some North Carolina hospitals say the easing of the coronavirus pandemic has created potentially dangerous shortages. As people get out and about more, injuries from car crashes and other traumas are increasing, and the backlog of surgical procedures delayed by the pandemic have driven up demand for blood and platelets.  The News & Observer of Raleigh also reports that fewer organizations are hosting blood drives and fewer individuals are coming in to donation centers.

The North Carolina House gave its final approval to wide-ranging energy legislation during an unusual overnight session. The chamber met briefly early Thursday after midnight for the second of two required votes on the measure, which now heads to the Senate. The first vote happened early Wednesday evening, but Democrats unhappy with the legislation blocked an immediate second vote. House Republican leaders are pushing the bill that would retire early several Duke Energy power plants fueled by coal and expand solar production. Democratic Gov.

A federal freeze on most evictions enacted last year is scheduled to expire July 31, after the Biden 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.

"Coal power plant" by peggydavis66 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Legislation that could shape North Carolina electricity production for decades has received initial approval by the House. Republicans pushing the bill say it promotes an all-of-the-above energy strategy while reducing carbon emissions and keeping power reliable and affordable. The anchor of the legislation is the early retirement of coal-fired power plants at five Duke Energy locations. Opponents said Wednesday the measure relies too much on natural gas, could cause soaring customer rates and would take authority from the Utilities Commission.

Some fishermen are being credited with saving a newborn horse from drowning in a canal on North Carolina's Outer Banks. The Corolla Wild Horse fund says on its Facebook page that a foal born on Saturday was struggling in a canal on Monday. According to the post, three nearby fishermen rescued the foal, named Beatrice, from the water. Owen Carson also posted to Facebook that as he and his buddies were heading out to fish, they saw the foal with its frantic parents looking on. Carson said he and his friends circled back, and he waded into the water to guide the foal to safety.

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A wide-ranging criminal justice measure focused on weeding out problem law enforcement officers in North Carolina and giving mental health aid to others has cleared a House committee. The measure received broad support Wednesday only after proposed changes to how certain officer body camera footage can be viewed by family members were deleted. Civil rights groups and Democrats criticized those changes because they had been altered from what was included in the measure when the Senate approved the legislation unanimously in May.

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North Carolina Republicans are moving forward with a bill that defines what teachers can and can't say about race and racism in classrooms. State Senate leader Phil Berger teachers would be prohibited from compelling students to personally adopt a list of 13 beliefs. Republicans haven't identified a single case of this happening, and Berger says teachers therefore have nothing to worry about. But Democrats, education groups and racial justice advocates fear the measure will stifle conversations on race in schools and have a chilling effect on teachers.

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The family of an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in North Carolina has filed a $30 million civil rights lawsuit. Wednesday's filing in federal court says Andrew Brown Jr. died because of the deputies’ “reckless disregard of his life.” Brown was killed April 21 by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies who were serving drug-related warrants at his Elizabeth City home. The deputies surrounded Brown's BMW before his car backed up and moved forward. The deputies then fired at his vehicle. A local prosecutor said the shooting was justified.

Authorities in North Carolina have arrested a man who they believe vandalized a Black Lives Matter street mural painted to honor a man shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies. News outlets report Elizabeth City police say 32-year-old Jeremy Wayne Maggard was arrested Tuesday and charged with injury to real property and reckless driving. Maggard is free on a $500 bond. Artist Michael Little painted the mural in honor of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot and killed by a Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office deputy on April 21. It was unveiled on Saturday and defaced the next day.

Emergency workers on the North Carolina Outer Banks say a boy from Ohio died after he became trapped between and elevator car and the elevator shaft inside a vacation rental home. News outlets report Currituck Fire-EMS Chief Ralph Melton says emergency workers were sent to a home in Corolla Sunday evening and arrived to find a 7-year-old boy without a pulse and trapped by the elevator. Melton says rescuers were able to quickly free the child but were unable to resuscitate him. Melton would only say the boy was from Canton, Ohio, but he provided no additional details.

"Coal power plant" by peggydavis66 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

State regulators will develop rules for North Carolina to meet targets for reducing power plant pollution. The Environmental Management Commission voted 9-3 on Tuesday to carry out a petition from environmental groups. They want a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 when compared to 2005. The directive also prepares North Carolina for joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It's a cap-and-trade program for power plant emissions in 11 mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states. Many steps lay ahead, but this puts the commission on track to meet Gov.

The national governing body for high school athletics has changed its softball rules after a Black player in North Carolina was forced to cut her hair because of the beads she was wearing. The Charlotte Observer reports the National Federation of High Schools removed language from one rule which had previously prohibited hard items to control the hair, including hair beads. Also head coverings worn for religious reasons will no longer require approval from state associations.

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