AP-NC Newswatch

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May 21, 2019
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May 21, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT



North Carolina Senate debates bill to fix voter ID denials
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Voter ID legislation now goes before North Carolina’s Senate after the House eased rules around authenticating student and employee identification cards for use in next year’s elections.
The House bill is set for Senate elections committee debate on Tuesday. The photo ID cards provided by many University of North Carolina system campuses have failed to meet security standards set in a new law, and without some changes, hundreds of state and local institutions can’t apply again to the State Board of Elections to have their IDs qualify for election use until 2021.
The House bill provides another chance to qualify this fall. The House also would give county elections boards more flexibility operating early in-person voting places in municipal elections.



Opponents mobilize against easing Duke Energy rate increases
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Opponents want North Carolina lawmakers to reject Duke Energy Corp.’s push to line up profitable infrastructure projects years into the future and bypass lengthy regulatory battles.
Energy Justice NC, NC WARN and other environmental advocates are organizing citizens on Tuesday who want to lobby legislators and voice opposition to Senate Bill 559.
The change would allow Duke Energy or Virginia-based Dominion Energy to set a key component of electricity rates for up to five years without the companies having to justify their reasons in multiple, trial-like hearings.
The measure surfaced after state utilities regulators last year wouldn’t approve a $13 billion, 10-year Duke Energy proposal on electricity grid updates with profit margins tacked on. The country’s largest electricity company also sees coal ash cleanup costing up to $10 billion.



N Carolina woman sues Project Veritas, founder for libel
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A trial over a lawsuit against right-wing group Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe is under way in North Carolina. At issue is how a woman who was struck in the face outside a 2016 Donald Trump campaign rally was portrayed in a video.
Jurors in Asheville were sequestered overnight to hear testimony Tuesday in Shirley Teter’s lawsuit. Police said the disabled woman was assaulted and knocked to the ground.
Project Veritas released a video a month later that described Teter as a paid Democratic operative aiming to provoke assaults by Trump supporters. Teter sued, saying that was untrue and the video sparked threatening online comments that caused her to fear for her safety.
Project Veritas has used disguises and hidden cameras to uncover supposed liberal bias and corruption.



Raleigh-Durham Airports adds gates, security lanes
MORRISVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Raleigh-Durham International Airport is expanding both gates and security lanes as the airport copes with a record-breaking number of passengers.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports three budget airlines will join Southwest in Terminal 1 by April 1, 2020. The move by Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines will free space in Terminal 2.
To make room for the new airlines, four unused gates in Terminal 1 will be activated.
In addition, Terminal 2 now has two more security lanes for a total of 12.
Traffic continues to grow at RDU, where a record 6.4 million passengers flew last year. RDU officials say nearly 572,000 passengers boarded flights in April, a 6.2% increase compared to the same month last year.



Report: North Carolina hurricane funds delayed
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina government watchdog agency says administrative mistakes and a lack of expertise caused delays in the state’s distribution of certain federal long-term recovery funds following Hurricane Matthew.
The report released Monday by the non-partisan Program Evaluation Division also found $3.7 million in unnecessary state spending.
The state received a federal block grant of $199 million in December 2016, which was later increased to $237 million. But as of December 2018- over two years after Matthew made landfall – only 1% of it had been spent. South Carolina spent 22% of a similar award during the same time period.
The report says North Carolina was inexperienced with this type of grant.
In response, state recovery leaders acknowledged their inexperience led to a delay, but disagreed with some of the report’s conclusions.



South Carolina: Tax break for Carolina Panthers near passage
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina legislators are expected to clear the final hurdle to giving the Carolina Panthers up to $120 million in tax breaks to move their practice fields and team headquarters out of North Carolina.
The Senate voted 23-16 on Monday to approve a compromise smoothing over small differences in the bill. A few hours later, the House passed the bill 88-18. Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to quickly sign it into law.
The bill exempts the Panthers from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years as long as they use the money to build their new complex near Rock Hill.
Opponents say the state shouldn’t help a billionaire NFL owner.
The team would continue to play games in Charlotte, North Carolina.



Trump DOJ wants role in lawsuit over pay at 2 NC med schools
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal lawsuit in North Carolina accusing neighboring research universities of conspiring to depress wages for medical professionals is nearing a settlement, and the Trump Administration wants to enforce the deal.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing Monday that it should join the pending settlement because it enforces federal antitrust laws barring anti-competitive “no-poach” agreements. Former Duke University physician Dr. Danielle Seaman’s lawsuit claims the universities illegally agreed against hiring medical professors away from each other.
Duke and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill denied that top administrators promised not to hire away staff for similar roles.
About 5,500 faculty at Duke and UNC are covered by Seaman’s a class-action lawsuit. UNC was dropped as a defendant after turning over internal documents.



Craft beer legislation completes round, heads to governor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Small breweries in North Carolina could soon be toasting a new law that would give growing beer-makers in the state more time to sell their products on their own without third-party distributors.
By a 38-3 vote, the Senate gave final legislative approval Monday night to a measure that represents a compromise between alcohol wholesalers and craft brewers hammered out over years of negotiation and litigation. The bill already cleared the House and now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper – a craft brewing booster – for his signature.
The bipartisan bill would allow breweries to sell up to 50,000 barrels of beer annually on their own. The current limit is 25,000 barrels. Craft breweries in the state have grown this decade from 45 to over 200.



AP-WF-05-21-19 1521GMT