Associated Press

There’s a bipartisan effort to better care for pregnant North Carolina prisoners and jail inmates before and after they deliver their babies. State legislators scheduled a Tuesday news conference to unveil a proposal that has support from the American Civil Liberties Union, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and OB-GYNs. The bill would severely limit the handcuffing and shackling of pregnant women who are incarcerated and seek to ensure newborns and their mothers are cared for well. Shackling often involves chaining both wrists and ankles.

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Vice President Kamala Harris visited central North Carolina to pitch the Biden administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan. Monday's trip marked Harris' first visit to the state since getting sworn in to office. She spoke at Guilford Technical Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Campus and later toured a Thomas Built Buses plant in High Point. Harris said the proposal is a “once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation” investment in America’s future. She highlighted many items in the plan beyond the proposed transportation infrastructure.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will give his “State of the State” speech to a joint session of the General Assembly next week. Spokespeople for Cooper and top Republican legislative leaders confirmed on Monday that plans are in place for the governor to deliver the biennial address at 7 p.m. April 26 in the House chamber. The address is usually given in February or March of odd-numbered years, but things are different this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. This will mark Cooper’s third State of the State address and first since he got reelected in November.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has signed off on orders involving Duke Energy’s two electric subsidiaries in the state over rate increase requests and how the company will pay to get rid of coal ash stored in the state. The regulatory panel issued an order Friday involving Duke Energy Progress. A similar order involving Duke Energy Carolinas came out late last month. The final rate increases haven't been finalized.

A federal judge says the tribe that runs both of North Carolina's casinos is out of luck in its legal challenge against a competitor vying to build a third gambling facility in the state. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg rejected a legal challenge Friday by the North Carolina-based Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians over a planned casino near the state’s southern line. The new casino is being built by the Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina and will offer Las Vegas-style gaming at a planned resort in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

A North Carolina District Court judge has been suspended without pay for 30 days for violating judicial rules because he served as the executor for the estates of two family friends. The state Supreme Court issued on Friday the suspension for Judge William Brooks, who holds court for four northwestern counties. The Code of Judicial Conduct prevents such work by a sitting judge except when the estate belongs to a family member. Friday's order also says he failed to report nearly $90,000 in the estates' commissions he received at the time.

NCDPS

The head of North Carolina’s emergency management operations since 2013 will retire this summer. The Department of Public Safety announced on Friday that Mike Sprayberry will step down after more than 40 years of state service. After the governor, Sprayberry has been the most public face for state government’s efforts to prepare for and recover from hurricanes, snowstorms and other natural emergencies. He's a former Marine and North Carolina National Guard member who became deputy emergency management director in 2005.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell for the sixth consecutive month in March. The state Commerce Department said on Friday the seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased from 5.7% in February to 5.2%. The national rate was 6% in March. The March rate in North Carolina is the lowest since a 3.9% rate in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic took off. The rate soon went into double digits. The jobless figures have slowly improved since then, especially as business restrictions have eased.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has nominated the current chairman and vice chairman of the State Board of Education to serve eight additional years on the panel. Chairman Eric Davis and Vice Chairman Alan Duncan are among four people the governor on Thursday asked the General Assembly to confirm for the board. The others are Melody Chalmers McClain and Ronald Hargrave. Eleven of the board's 13 voting members are gubernatorial appointees. Cooper also announced Thursday he nominated former Cabinet member Larry Hall of Durham to join the panel that hears unemployment benefit appeals.

Authorities are looking for a man on trial for attempted murder after he fled a North Carolina courtroom. The Wilson Times reports authorities are searching for 31-year-old Deonta Earl Bridgers, who jurors convicted in absentia on Wednesday after he fled. The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office says that prior to his court proceedings, Bridgers was on house arrest without any additional restrictions. Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff, says a deputy received a tampering alert from Bridgers’ electronic monitoring device on Tuesday when he failed to return to court from lunch.

NCDHHS

The state House is backing legislation that would give additional state tax breaks to businesses that took federal loans to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Senate isn’t yet fully on board with the idea, which comes with a hefty price tag. The House gave initial approval to the measure on Thursday by an overwhelming margin. It allows businesses that spent Payroll Protection Program loan proceeds to deduct the expenses from their income for state tax purposes. The PPP money was designed to keep workers at shuttered firms employed.

Authorities on the North Carolina coast say one person is dead after a portion of an old bridge on the Outer Banks collapsed and fell into the water. Capt. Jeff Derringer of the Dare County Sheriff's Office says workers were dismantling a section of the old Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks on Wednesday when that section fell approximately 110 feet into Oregon Inlet. The accident was first reported by OBX Today, and there was no official word on any other injuries. The Bonner Bridge sits adjacent to the Marc Basnight Bridge, which replaced it in 2019.

Calls for fairness predominated a North Carolina legislative hearing on a bill that would prevent transgender girls and women from competing in organized school sports designated for biologically female athletes. A House judiciary committee debated and took testimony Wednesday on the measure but did not vote on the Republican bill. Similar bills have become law in at least four states since last year. The North Carolina legislation would apply from middle school through college and include official teams, competitions and intramurals.

Many North Carolina legislators say it’s still the right time to seek making daylight saving time permanent in the state. A House committee on Tuesday advanced a measure that would move clocks up an hour for good if Congress allows it. Other states are passing similar laws that also would require congressional approval. One bill sponsor says moving the time up would mean more time for outdoor evening activities. But a permanent shift also would mean more children getting ready for school and adults going to work in the dark.

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North Carolina’s programs that spend tax dollars on scholarships for low-income students to attend private K-12 schools and for children with disabilities to receive special education would be altered in a measure approved by the state House. The chamber passed on Tuesday the Republican bill in a party-line vote. The measure would turn the Opportunity Scholarship Program award amounts into a percentage of the state's per-pupil allocation for public schools. The state's two scholarship programs for children with disabilities would be combined.

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Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory says he’ll run for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina in hopes of succeeding the retiring Sen. Richard Burr. The one-term governor revealed his plans Wednesday on his Charlotte-area radio show. McCrory is currently the most well-known candidate to have entered the contest. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is already in the race for the GOP nomination. Democrats have targeted Burr’s seat as a prime pickup opportunity to expand their razor-thin Senate edge. McCrory was elected as North Carolina's governor in 2012 and served four years in office.

Two North Carolina police officers have been placed on leave after at least one of them was shown on video throwing punches at a Black man after a foot pursuit. A 17-second video clip from a bystander during the arrest Monday night in Kinston appears to show an officer standing over David Lee Bruton Jr. and throwing multiple punches while he’s down. The head of the local NAACP chapter called the video disturbing, and the man’s mother said she’s grateful her son is alive.

North Carolina has 85,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines it will offer to people who had been scheduled to receive a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Those people can either reschedule their appointment if they want a J&J vaccine or elect to receive either of the other two vaccines. State health officials got word earlier in the day from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they should stop administering J&J doses over concerns of six rare cases of serious blood clots.

NC Ferry Division

Ferry service on Pamlico Sound is resuming as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues work on shoaling issues in Bigfoot Slough. The N.C. Department of Transportation says in a news release that service from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island to Ocracoke began Tuesday with a two-boat, alternate schedule while the corps continues its work. Shoaling occurs when sand and sediment fill into a ferry channel, making water depths too shallow and the channel too narrow for safe operation of the ferry system’s largest vessels.

The number of gun purchases in North Carolina is rising based on an analysis of federal background checks. The Charlotte Observer reported Monday that the FBI in March conducted its highest number of background checks this year on North Carolina firearms buyers. The agency performed about 90,000 background checks. That’s up from 72,000 in February. Some gun shop owners say the rise in gun purchases is driven by fear of stricter gun laws and mass shootings. But the $1,400 in federal stimulus checks are also a factor.

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Officials at East Carolina University say a former music instructor who promised the school a $500,000 gift actually has left a substantially larger sum. A news release from the school says the gift from Beatrice Chauncey totals $5.2 million, all of which is designated to go to student scholarships to the school of music. According to the news release, the $5.2 million gift will double the amount of scholarship money the school of music can award. Chauncey, who was originally from Akron, Ohio, came to what was then East Carolina Teachers College in 1949.

North Carolina’s latest law requiring photo identification to cast ballots is now on trial.  A panel of three state judges began hearing evidence on Monday in litigation filed to overturn a 2018 law that filled in details of how a voter ID constitutional amendment would be implemented.  A federal appeals courts already struck down in 2016 a voter ID mandate from 2013. A lawyer representing voters who sued told the judges the law is designed to keep Black voters from the ballot box. But a lawyer for Republicans say that's untrue, and that the law expanded the types of qualifying IDs.

NCDPS

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's safe for North Carolina vaccine clinics that saw an increase in reports of adverse reactions to continue administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. David Wohl oversees vaccine operations at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough Hospital. He says between eight and 14 of roughly 1,250 J&J vaccine recipients the clinic served on Thursday fainted after receiving the shot, though nobody was taken to a hospital. released. Fourteen additional people experienced minor reactions that were able to be treated on-site.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill offering a six-week summer school program to all K-12 students. Supporters of the plan point to increased learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need bring children back up to speed. Cooper on Friday also signed another bill that would create an Early Literacy Program to boost reading proficiency among younger pupils. Early-grade students struggling with reading will receive individualized improvement plans.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina says he has undergone surgery for prostate cancer. A statement from the senator's office said Thursday that he underwent the surgery earlier this week and that he's thankful to the doctors and nurses who provided him with outstanding care. Tillis announced last week that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, saying it had been detected relatively early. Tillis is a Charlotte-area native who was initially elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Town of Emerald Isle

The N.C. Department of Transportation is scheduling multiple overnight lane closures on a coastal bridge beginning this weekend. A news release from the department on Thursday says the Emerald Isle Bridge will be reduced to one lane on Sunday at 9 p.m. Lanes will reopen the next morning at 6 a.m. On the evenings of April 12-15, crews will close one lane at 7 p.m. and reopen it at 6 a.m. the next day. The work includes repairing the bridge seats, which the girders rest on. The repairs were already scheduled for this year but were moved up after a recent inspection.

North Carolina Democratic senate candidate Jeff Jackson raised nearly $1.3 million since entering the race in January. His campaign says more than 14,000 people contributed by the end of March. Jackson is looking to fill an open U.S. Senate being vacated by Republican Sen. Richard Burr. The Charlotte-area state senator plans to publicly release his first quarterly campaign finance report of the 2022 election cycle on April 15. The median donation was $25. Jackson’s campaign says 86% of the more than 20,000 contributions it received were under $100.

NC Ferry Division

The North Carolina ferry service that carries passengers to the Outer Banks is facing a shortage of deck hands, seamen and captains. The Virginian-Pilot reported last week that there’s often a waiting list to get a ferry job. But this year the service needs to fill an expanded summer schedule. Jed Dixon, deputy director of the North Carolina Ferry Division, said the pandemic prevented an annual job fair that typically helps recruit enough employees. But he said that people could simply be choosing other careers. North Carolina has a system of 22 ferries on seven routes.

A trio of North Carolina Republicans are looking to ban gender confirming treatment options for residents under 21. The measure that will almost assuredly not become law would prevent doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery. LGBTQ advocates fear the bill would also out people under 21 who tell state workers that they may be transgender. Senate Bill 514 follows a nationwide trend of GOP-controlled state legislatures looking to limit treatments for transgender adolescents.

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The North Carolina General Assembly has finalized a pair of public education measures designed to get more intensive help to children learning to read and to those who have fallen behind during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GOP-controlled House and Senate on Thursday approved both bills, which now go to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. One bill would require all school districts to offer at least six weeks of summer school designed to help K-12 students who’ve failed to flourish with virtual learning. The other expands efforts to get more third graders reading proficiently.

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