AP-NC Newswatch

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August 29, 2018
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August 29, 2018
AP-NC Newswatch




Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



Republicans say they’re ending appeals in ballot cases
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republican legislative leaders have stopped fighting litigation addressing proposed constitutional amendments and partisan labels for a few judicial candidates for this fall’s ballots.
Key GOP lawmakers say paperwork is in to end appeals of lower court rulings they lost.
The state Court of Appeals accepted Tuesday their withdrawal motion in a case where judges blocked referendums for two constitutional amendments because the questions weren’t clear enough. Republicans say the legislature finalized Monday new amendments and referendums that comply with the ruling. Gov. Roy Cooper and interest groups challenged the earlier amendments, and Cooper’s office says further legal action should be expected.
Republican leaders also say they’re leaving intact a ruling halting enforcement of a law removing party designations next to names of judicial candidates who switched affiliations close to filing.



Ruling could shake up North Carolina congressional elections
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – This year’s U.S. House elections in North Carolina could see repercussions after federal judges struck down the state’s congressional map, saying Republicans went too far using political data to preserve GOP-held seats.
The panel of judges raised the possibility this week of redrawing the districts by mid-September so they could be used in November elections, or before the next session of Congress in January.
GOP lawmakers say requiring a new map now could bring voter chaos and confusion, but the state Democratic Party says voters shouldn’t have to suffer through another election with unconstitutional districts.
Election officials would face big challenges using the new districts on short notice.
Late congressional elections could bring huge attention to these races if the party that controls the House hasn’t been settled by then.



The Latest: UNC board working on Confederate statue plan
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – The board that oversees North Carolina’s public universities has asked the University of North Carolina’s campus at Chapel Hill to come up with a plan for preserving a Confederate monument torn down by protesters.
The resolution approved Tuesday by the Board of Governors does not indicate whether university leaders favor returning the statue to its former location, or putting it elsewhere.
The resolution simply asks the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s chancellor and trustees to present them with a plan for the monument’s “disposition and preservation” by Nov. 15.
A week ago, protesters used ropes to pull down the statue known as “Silent Sam” during a demonstration attended by hundreds.



Hurricane recovery, pipeline focus of legislative panel
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to publicly talk some more about Hurricane Matthew relief and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The General Assembly’s chief government oversight committee when not in session meets Wednesday. Presentations on hurricane recovery and the pipeline’s permitting process are on the agenda.
Eastern lawmakers have been unhappy with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration on the pace in which over $200 million in federal funds are being distributed to homeowners and landlords for repairs and rebuilding. State officials say federal environmental reviews approved this week in three key counties should accelerate money distribution.
Cooper’s representatives are expected at Wednesday’s meeting.
As for the pipeline, an appeals court this month vacated two key federal permits for the project covering West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.



2 inmates hurt in assault in North Carolina prison
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials say two inmates were hurt during an incident in a housing unit in a North Carolina prison.
The N.C. Department of Public Safety said in a news release that the incident occurred Tuesday at Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg. Officials said the two inmates were taken to a hospital outside of the prison for treatment. Their conditions weren’t known.
Spokesman Jerry Higgins said no staff members or other inmates were hurt. The incident is under internal investigation.



North Carolina DMV sends out mobile units to help with IDs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles says it has sent mobile units across the state to help workers at major employers obtain REAL IDs faster.
Spokesman Jamie Kritzer said in an email Tuesday mobile unit stops were provided either at special request or on a regular basis at locations including Camp Lejeune and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kritzer said DMV will complete the appointments this month.
REAL ID is a form of driver’s license that satisfies federal standards set to go into full effect in October 2020.
WBTV in Charlotte reported DMV was providing driver’s license services to state workers at a special location unavailable to the public. Kritzer said the agency made the service available at its Raleigh headquarters, but isn’t currently doing so.



North Carolina university ponders changes to troubled dorms
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Administrators at a North Carolina university are considering potential changes to five apartment-style dormitories which officials have designated as safety risks.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports UNC Asheville hasn’t said when the changes will occur or determined how students will be impacted.
The State Construction Office issued a certificate of occupancy earlier this month, but the N.C. Department of Insurance barred students from moving in for the new school year. Students were allowed to return under an agreement that puts four Asheville firefighters in an apartment.
Citing documents, the newspaper reported signs of problems with the $34 million project surfaced at least as early as May. The insurance department said it found construction issues that would make the buildings less able to withstand a fire and make escape harder for residents.



North Carolina school system tackles lead in drinking water
(Information from: WFDD-FM.)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina school system has removed old faucets from several schools where high levels of lead were found in the drinking water.
WFDD-FM in Winston-Salem reports Guilford County Schools took samples at the tap to look for lead contamination. The samples taken from Southeast Guilford Middle had the highest amount of lead at 194 parts per billion, more than 10 times the recommended threshold by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Frazier Elementary and Allen Jay Elementary also had elevated lead levels.
The district says old faucets were the source, and they’ve since replaced them. Chief Operating Officer Scott McCully says new tests show the water is safe, and they will continue to take additional safety measures.
State and federal law doesn’t require districts to test for lead.