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June 20, 2019
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



Woman says NC Uber driver took her on an unwanted ride
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A Boston woman says she and her friend were essentially held captive by a chatty North Carolina Uber driver who turned turn their 15-minute ride into a 45-minute drive without their consent.
Sara Alfageeh tells The Charlotte Observer that the driver told her he was taking a different exit, and then ended the trip on the app. She said on Twitter that he drove them off-route to continue the conversation.
Alfageeh says she called a friend and loudly said they were close to the hotel. She says the driver then repeatedly told her they were minutes away, later letting them out about seven minutes from the hotel.
Alfageeh reported the driver on Tuesday, and Uber says he’s been suspended. She said they didn’t apologize.



Cooper, legislators meet face to face on budget negotiations
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and legislative budget writers have met to discuss what it will take to agree soon on the next state spending plan.
Cooper and Republican legislative leaders confirmed Wednesday’s breakfast meeting at the Executive Mansion. Cooper is capitalizing on his expanded leverage now that fellow Democrats can uphold his vetoes if they’re united.
One of Cooper’s top priorities is expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of people. Cooper’s office said the governor suggested a two-track negotiation, with one group looking at health care issues and another discussing everything else.
Legislative Republicans largely are opposed to expansion. Senate leader Phil Berger’s spokesman said chamber Republicans are pleased Cooper wants to keep negotiating on other budget provisions. House senior budget-writer Jason Saine said Wednesday’s meeting was encouraging.



Sex abuse lawsuit deadlines extended by North Carolina House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina House members have backed overwhelmingly a longer period of time for victims of child sexual abuse to sue perpetrators for damages as adults.
The measure now heading to the Senate following Wednesday’s vote of 104-10 extends the statute of limitations for a victim from 21 years of age to 38. The bill also would give older adults outside the proposed age cap a two-year window to file lawsuits.
The legislation comes with increased awareness nationally about sex abuse cases, such as those within the Roman Catholic Church and in youth organizations.
Bill sponsor Rep. Dennis Riddell says many victims aren’t coming to terms with the abuse until much later in life and should be able to seek redress. Civil cases require lower levels of proof than criminal matters.



Sheriff: Inmates choked man with sheets, stole wedding ring
ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff says three inmates attacked another inmate, choked him with bed sheets and stole his wedding ring.
News outlets report Randolph County inmates Timothy Wayne Harris, Isaac Martin Dove, Devin McLaurin Owens, and Michael Sesar Fiscal are charged with assault by strangulation and other offenses in the attack. A county sheriff’s office statement says the men choked the other inmate last week, bent the man’s arm backward and snatched his wedding ring.
It says the ring has since been recovered. Authorities have not said what motivated the attack or where the ring was found.
The sheriff’s office says the charged inmates were set to appear in court this week. It’s unclear if they have lawyers who represent them on the new charges.



Judge: New documents warrant further look at census question
A federal judge says he’s inclined to reexamine whether a proposed 2020 census citizenship question violates the rights of minorities after reviewing newly discovered documents from a deceased political operative.
U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland ruled Wednesday that plaintiffs have produced enough evidence to warrant reopening the case, even though he already has ruled in their favor on other grounds.
His ability to consider altering his ruling based on the new evidence would depend on a federal appeals court returning it to him.
Voting rights activists argue newly discovered emails between the late GOP mapmaker Thomas Hofeller and a current Census Bureau official show the citizenship question was intended to discriminate.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the citizenship question should be included.



Ex-deputy: Supervisor used racial slur, pointed gun at him
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A biracial former North Carolina sheriff’s deputy says in a lawsuit that his supervising officer addressed him with a racial slur multiple times, called him “monkey boy” and pointed a gun at his head at least eight times.
Attorneys for former Beaufort County sheriff’s deputy Dominic Franks filed his discrimination lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday against the department, Sheriff Ernie Coleman, supervisor William Ragland and two others. Another defendant was identified in the lawsuit as “John Doe.”
According to the lawsuit, Franks and others reported Ragland’s behavior, but they got no response.
Franks, a military veteran, said he was also harassed and retaliated against after complaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following his resignation in 2017.
Coleman said in a statement that the allegations are not true.



Electronic voting machines could get reprieve in House bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina counties that still use touchscreen-only voting systems could get a reprieve from a state law that would scrap those machines before the 2020 elections.
The House voted unanimously on Wednesday for legislation that would enable the State Board of Elections to extend use of those machines by one year, or until after the presidential election.
Current law says direct-record electronic voting systems that don’t use paper ballots – now used by one-third of the voting population – are decertified this December.
Supporters of eliminating the machines cite security concerns about hackers. Others say there isn’t enough time to get new machines in place for next year.
The bill says the state board could grant an extension to a county that shows the electronic system won’t jeopardize election security.



Bill directing immigration holds advances in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina sheriffs would be forced to honor federal requests to hold jail inmates who may be in the country unlawfully, under a bill that has advanced at the General Assembly.
Some recently elected black Democratic county sheriffs – most from metropolitan areas – have refused to comply with immigration detainers. They’ve accused Republicans of trying to erode their authority and using racially tinged “code words” to target them.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the measure, which was altered from a version that passed the House. The latest edition requires a judge or magistrate to issue an order to hold the inmate, but opponents say due process problems remain that make it unconstitutional.
The bill passed after two spectators yelling against the bill were led out of the committee room.