Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
DISPUTED ELECTION-NORTH CAROLINA
Candidates in N. Carolina special election meet for debate
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The two main candidates in the country’s only congressional district still without a representative after last year’s elections meet for what could be their only debate.
Republican Dan Bishop and Democrat Dan McCready are expected to debate Wednesday night in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district contest. A special election on September 10 was called after ballot fraud was discovered in last year’s race.
Bishop is a state senator, lawyer and Christian conservative. He’s emphasized his strict allegiance to President Donald Trump, for example by supporting a wall built along the Mexican border.
McCready started a financial firm that raised money to build solar farms. He’s avoided associations with congressional Democrats and won’t support investigating whether Trump should be impeached. He has focused on health care and education issues.
TRUMP RALLY-NORTH CAROLINA
Trump to rally for GOP candidate before NC vote
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump will be traveling to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for a campaign rally on Sept. 9, one day before a special election to fill a congressional seat that has been vacant all year.
Trump will campaign for the Republican candidate in the race, state Sen. Dan Bishop of Charlotte. Democrat Dan McCready and two others are also running.
Michael Glassner, chief operating officer for Trump’s presidential campaign, said the president will talk about “historic achievements” for the country and “his long record of accomplishments in the state.”
A 9th District election was held last November, but state officials ordered a redo after an investigation found evidence of fraud involving the collection of mail-in ballots. The Republican who ran last year didn’t run again.
More scrutiny on hurricane recovery from NC Republicans
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republican lawmakers in Raleigh and Washington say they’re seeking more answers about why long-term federal hurricane recovery funds are inching out for housing repairs or reimbursements.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis will join top General Assembly leaders on Wednesday for a news conference. House Speaker Tim Moore’s office says they’ll talk about legislative proposals and hearings.
A spring report by the legislature’s government watchdog agency blamed administrative mistakes and a lack of expertise for state delays in distributing federal community block grant funds earmarked for Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has said distribution is picking up, but also attributes delays in using other federal funds to slowness from the federal government in publishing details on how they can be used.
Bill addressing ballot ‘harvesting’ gets initial NC House OK
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Stricter rules for requesting mail-in absentee ballots in North Carolina and more severe crimes for people who collect them have received tentative approval in the state House.
The bill voted for by a near-unanimous chamber on Tuesday also would reinstate permanently the extension of early in-person voting until the last Saturday before each election.
The measure largely addresses problems that surfaced during a 2018 congressional race involving “harvesting” of absentee ballots by political operatives. State election officials ordered a new 9th Congressional District election.
The bill also allows counties currently with touch-screen election machines to use them through the 2020 elections if the state board agrees they aren’t a security risk. A floor amendment that would have barred their use next year failed by a 58-59 vote.
Hampton VA Medical Center gets new director
(Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com/)
HAMPTON, Va. (AP) – A 28-year veteran of the Navy Medical Service Corps will be the new director of the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Virginia.
The Daily Press reports David Collins’ hiring was announced Tuesday by VA’s Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, which covers veteran’s hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina. He’ll oversee care at the hospital and outpatient clinics in Virginia Beach and Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Collins was most recently the executive assistant to the Navy Surgeon General. He previously worked at two naval hospitals and was the executive officer of a NATO multinational medical unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The center has an operating budget of over $350 million a year and a growth rate more than four times the national average.
TVA backlash grows as coal ash spill workers fall sick
KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) – A backlash is growing from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s handling of the nation’s largest coal ash spill a decade ago. Workers said they were prohibited from wearing dust masks while cleaning up the ash and now suffer from cancers and lung diseases.
The TVA contractor Jacobs Engineering denied their claims, saying the cleanup posed no health hazard. A Knoxville jury sided with the workers, deciding last year that Jacobs had breached its duty to keep them safe. But to get any money, the workers still have to prove their exposure to the coal ash made them sick.
The public utility maintains that its contractor alone was responsible for any issues, but it’s the reputation of the TVA that’s at stake.
E-CIGARETTE LAWSUITS-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina prosecutor expands fight against youth vaping
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top prosecutor says he’s expanding efforts to halt e-cigarette marketing to teens by suing eight more manufacturers of vaping products.
Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday that he’s filing lawsuits against eight e-cigarette companies. The lawsuits allege they are marketing to young people with candy and dessert flavors, as well as social media ads. He’s asking courts in the traditional tobacco-growing state to shut down marketing to underage people.
Stein previously announced in May he was suing the company that makes Juul, the dominant brand in the e-cigarette market. He said Tuesday his office has been in discussions with Juul as the litigation proceeds.
Juul has previously said that it’s concerned about youth vaping and is working to reduce it.
DUKE ENERGY-GRID COSTS
Multiyear utility rate option idea goes to negotiating table
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina senators aren’t accepting House changes to a Senate bill that replace a proposal to let Duke Energy Corp. seek multiyear electric rates from state regulators with simply studying the idea instead.
The Senate voted on Tuesday to reject the House version of the measure. Leaders in the two chambers appointed negotiators to work out their differences.
Charlotte-based Duke Energy has pushed hard this year for the option to seek multiyear rates from the Utilities Commission and to receive some flexibility in their profit margin. House members weren’t as confident that the Senate version would receive Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s support, so the study idea surfaced.
The idea of multiyear rate-setting comes after state utilities regulators last year wouldn’t approve a 10-year Duke Energy proposal on electricity grid updates.