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The N.C. Department of Transportation has signed a $432 million contract this month to rebuild eight miles of Interstate 95 through one county with an eye on eliminating a recurring flooding problem. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports flooding resulting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 closed the highway in Robeson County for several days. Starting next year, contractors will begin work on widening I-95 from four lanes to eight and replace bridges at three interchanges.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is facing calls to resign after a June video surfaced showing him likening some sexual orientations to “filth.” The state's highest Republican executive officeholder has a long history of espousing views many consider discriminatory. His latest remarks are being condemned by the White House, Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina and Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Jackson. Top GOP officials aren't commenting. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hasn't weighed in on whether the independently elected Robinson should resign.

The Coast Guard searched in the vicinity of Portsmouth Island in Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina on Sunday for a 27-year-old woman who is missing after a canoe capsized. The search began after a 911 call was received about 4:15 p.m. on Saturday of a capsized canoe with two people aboard. Watchstanders subsequently lost communication with the reporting source, who was a member of the same group. An aircrew located a conscious male survivor alongside a green canoe at about 9:54 a.m. on Sunday. He was transported to Carteret Hospital in Morehead City.

Far fewer North Carolina third-graders in public schools have demonstrated reading proficiency, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. State educators say the finding is troubling and needs to be urgently addressed. A report presented this week to the State Board of Education showed 31% of third-graders had not met promotion standards. That means these students are either repeating third grade this fall or receiving specific kinds of fourth-grade class instruction. The past school year was marked by limited in-person instruction due to the pandemic.

 A new organized effort to boost North Carolina minority voter turnout during the 2022 elections and beyond is underway. The New North Carolina Project is modeled after a similar initiative in Georgia founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The North Carolina organization aims to register over 100,000 voting-age adults and increase early-voting turnout dramatically next year. The group's leader is former Democratic state House candidate Aimy Steele.

Child care providers in North Carolina can begin applying next week for grants coming from an $805 million pool for the state through a COVID-19 relief law approved by Congress. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the start of North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants while visiting a Carrboro school on Thursday. All private, licensed early care and learning programs can apply starting Monday. Grants will range from $3,000 to $60,000. The grants can be used for things like payroll, capital improvements and training. Grants will be awarded starting in November for 18 months.

"greenhouse gas" by Gerald Simmons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A landmark energy measure for North Carolina that aims to dramatically reduce power plant greenhouse gas emissions has received final legislative approval and now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk for his expected signature. The House voted on Thursday for the consensus legislation, which passed the Senate on Wednesday. The negotiated agreement instructs the North Carolina Utilities Commission to draw up a plan by the end of next year to meet carbon dioxide reduction goals that Cooper has championed.

Republican legislative leaders will soon draw up another budget offer for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper after he presented a counterproposal this week. House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed on Thursday that Cooper sent a counteroffer to him and Senate leader Phil Berger earlier this week. The two GOP leaders last week finalized internal negotiations on a state government budget and presented that plan for Cooper to consider. Differences are likely around tax cuts, teacher pay raises and education spending.

House Republicans have resurrected a proposal to keep more non-U.S. citizens off North Carolina’s voter rolls through juror information.  The House Elections and Campaign Finance Committee voted along party lines Wednesday for the bill. It tells North Carolina courts to send information about potential jurors being disqualified because they aren’t citizens to election officials. Election workers would then figure out whether they are registered voters and prepare to remove them from the rolls. The voter could formally challenge such action. Democratic Gov.

A teacher has resigned from a North Carolina charter school after telling Black students in her class that they would be her “field slaves” if not for the Constitution. One parent says that comment was one of many such incidents at the school. Winterville Charter Academy sent a memo which also referred to “racially insensitive words” being used by children in the class without any action from the teacher. WITN reports that school officials said the teacher “will not be returning.” A statement from the school says it is working to address the ongoing concerns of parents.

"greenhouse gas" by Gerald Simmons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

An energy bill negotiated by legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper that aims to meet his greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for North Carolina is now one vote away from reaching Cooper's desk. The Senate voted Wednesday for the measure, and it could be acted on Thursday by the House. The bills tells state regulators to develop a plan to reduce energy producers’ carbon dioxide output 70% by 2030, and achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The bill also gives Duke Energy the ability to seek multiyear rate increases.

NCDHHS

Hospitals, nursing homes and adult care and hospice care facilities in North Carolina would be required to allow patient visits in a measure given final legislative approval. The bill heading to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk following a Senate vote on Wednesday is another piece of legislation responding to constituent complaints last year about family members being unable to visit loved ones in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill says visitations must be allowed to the extent that federal law permits, and that hospitals can be fined for violations.

NCDPS

A bipartisan energy bill backed by Gov. Roy Cooper that targets scaling back greenhouse gas emissions is advancing in the North Carolina legislature. The bill also gives Duke Energy the option to seek rate increases. The measure cleared two Senate committees on Tuesday and is likely to be on the Senate floor Wednesday. The legislation should be on the Democratic governor’s desk soon, given its backing from members of both parties, Duke Energy and several key business groups.

Rep. Walter Jones

A post office in a North Carolina city has been named for a native son and a longtime congressman with endorsements from Republicans and Democrats. The Daily Reflector of Greenville reports the post office in Farmville has been named for Rep. Walter B. Jones, who served in Congress from 1994 until he died at age of 76 in February 2019. Ceremonies marking the renaming were held on Tuesday. Legislation proposing the naming of the post office was introduced by US Rep. Greg Murphy, R-Greenville in 2019.

The General Assembly is ready to begin drawing new boundaries for the North Carolina legislature and the state’s U.S. House delegation for the next decade. The House and Senate remapping committee leaders said Tuesday that members could begin drawing boundaries Wednesday in committee rooms open to the public, with map work streamed on the internet. It’ll likely be at least two weeks before plans are debated and voted upon. North Carolina is redrawing House and Senate boundaries and those for Congress based on 2020 census figures released earlier this year.

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Marjorie K. Eastman, a combat veteran, former intelligence officer and mother of one, has made her entry into North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary battle. She seeks to distinguish herself from the three leading candidates by branding herself as a political outsider with a fresh perspective. Eastman said she decided to enter the race after the Biden administration's hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-Rep. Mark Walker are the top candidates vying for the GOP nomination.

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A North Carolina appeals court says some supporters of former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s efforts to contest the 2016 gubernatorial election results can be sued for allegedly defaming voters. The decision announced on Tuesday paves the way for a trial court to hear arguments against a Virginia-based law firm and the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund.

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Rep. Ted Budd has been playing defense since getting former President Donald Trump's endorsement in North Carolina's GOP Senate primary. Budd is one of three leading candidates looking to keep an open U.S. Senate seat in Republican hands. Former Gov. Pat McCrory accused Budd's family of “fraud” over a loan it gave to a company run by Budd's father. The family got the loan repaid even as farmers lost millions in the seed company's bankruptcy.

Officials at Fort Bragg say a soldier was killed and four others were injured in an accident involving a military vehicle. News outlets report that a news release from the Army post says the accident occurred Monday around 12:50 p.m. The names of those involved in the accident were being withheld pending notification of relatives. The accident was the second wreck on the post in four months. In June, an Army corporal was killed and two other soldiers injured in a wreck as they were en route to training.

North Carolina’s highest court is now considering whether the legislature’s decision 10 years ago to begin charging some retired state government workers and teachers a premium for health insurance violated an agreement the state made with those workers. The justices heard arguments Monday but didn't immediately rule. Their decision could affect hundreds of thousands of retirees and the state with premium refunds and future expenses. Retirees argue the state was contractually obligated to offer premium-free benefits under a plan in which they paid 20 percent of their co-insurance.

NCDHHS

North Carolina's COVID-19 metrics are improving even as fewer and fewer people are receiving a vaccine. State health department data released Monday showed unvaccinated residents are far likelier to contract the virus, become hospitalized and die. State health officials warn of a decreased effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing infection from the more contagious delta variant. But the approved COVID-19 shots remains the best prevention measure. In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have dropped by 25%. Cases have declined by more than 30%.

A North Carolina sheriff's office has charged a man after one of its deputies was wounded as they went to serve him an involuntary commitment order. News outlets report Robert Joseph Westrup appeared in court on Monday on charges of assault on law enforcement with a deadly weapon and attempted first-degree murder. Three Craven County sheriff's deputies went to serve Westrup on Friday after his family expressed concern. According to the sheriff's office, Westrup fired on the deputies and hit deputy Zachary Bellingham, who is recovering in the hospital.

Litigation challenging the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision a decade ago to charge some retired state government workers and teachers a premium for health insurance is now before the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments are set for Monday. The court’s ultimate decision could affect hundreds of thousands of retirees and cost the state premium refunds and future health care expenses. The plaintiffs argue the state was contractually obligated to offer premium-free benefits under a plan in which they paid 20 percent of their co-insurance.

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North Carolina state Rep. Dana Bumgardner has died from cancer. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed Bumgardner’s death on Saturday. The Gaston County Republican died at his home in Gastonia. He was in his fifth two-year term. He is survived by his wife Cindy, his children, Lauren and Austin, and his grandchildren Payton, Maggie, and Kate.

Hundreds of people in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, have rallied against restrictive anti-abortion laws in Texas. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that the protest was organized by a coalition of local advocacy groups. The Texas law, which was passed in May and went into effect in September, prohibits abortions after a fetal “heartbeat” is detected — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the law. The court will hear oral arguments for another major abortion case in December.

Law enforcement and education leaders in North Carolina are joining in a campaign it hopes will keep students from being exposed to online pornography and adult sex predators. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the state Department of Public Instruction and the nonprofit group The Third Talk have partnered on an internet safety video. The video will tell middle school and high school students about the dangers of online pornography. Students will see the video in school.

A North Carolina school board has passed a policy preventing Critical Race Theory in its classrooms after county commissioners threatened to withhold nearly $8 million in funding. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Johnston County teachers could be disciplined or fired if they teach that American historical figures weren’t heroes, undermine the U.S. Constitution in lessons or describe racism as a permanent part of American life.

The National Park Service says a North Carolina man has died while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. According to a news release, the man, who was from Horse Shoe in Henderson County but whose identity wasn’t immediately released, was reported by a friend to be feeling tired in the ocean without a flotation device. The park service says he was in the ocean near the northern entrance to Buxton. The friend called 911 at around 11 a.m., and Hatteras Island Rescue Squad personnel went into the ocean and brought the man to shore, where they performed CPR.

"greenhouse gas" by Gerald Simmons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have announced an agreement on an energy bill that aims to meet Cooper’s goals on greenhouse gas reductions. The measure would remove most of the prescriptive actions that House Republicans laid out in an earlier version of the bill that passed the chamber in July. Friday's deal still would allow Duke Energy to seek multiyear rate increases, instead of year by year. The new bill tells the Utilities Commission to create a roadmap on how to reach goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

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Onslow County Schools said they’ve seen an 89% decrease in student quarantines three weeks after implementing masking requirements.  According to a news release, the number of students excluded from school after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 peaked at more than 2,300 on September 9th.  Data reported Friday indicated 251 students were actively excluded from classes.  Prior to the masking policy, not all students were wearing face coverings.  On Sept.

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