Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
SCHOOL BUS-DRIVER CHARGED
Crash injures 9 children, school bus driver charged
WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (AP) – A school bus driver has been charged in a crash in North Carolina that injured 11 people, including nine children.
News outlets report 50-year-old Christopher Bracy is accused of failing to yield when making a left turn Tuesday afternoon near Williamston.
North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Brian Allen says Bracy said 25 students from Rodgers Elementary School were on the bus. Nine students were taken to Martin General Hospital to be checked out. The extent of their injuries is unclear.
Two people in the other vehicle were also taken to a hospital.
ELON MUSK-TREE FUNDING
Musk gives $1M to tree-planting drive inspired by YouTuber
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says he’ll donate $1 million worth of trees to help a tree-planting drive that was inspired by a well-known YouTube star in North Carolina.
The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the effort is called #TeamTrees. Money that’s donated goes to the Arbor Day Foundation. One dollar equals one tree planting.
The effort started in May when North Carolina YouTuber MrBeast was challenged by fans to plant 20 million trees to celebrate hitting 20 million subscribers. Other YouTubers have since joined in.
Musk tweeted on Tuesday that he’d join the effort to plant trees in forests of high need around the globe.
He tweeted that the effort “sounds legit, will donate 1M trees.”
National test shows North Carolina reading scores dropped
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The results of a national exam show student reading scores have dropped despite a $150 million investment into a North Carolina literacy program.
News outlets report that scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as The Nation’s Report Card , were released Wednesday. The test is given to fourth and eighth graders every two years to study math and reading performance.
Basic reading skills for both grades dropped between 2017 and 2019.
State lawmakers created the “Read to Achieve” program in 2012 to get students reading on grade level by the end of third grade.
A 2018 North Carolina State University study found no benefit on reading scores from the program that received over $150 million. Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill designed to retool the program.
2 dead, 7 injured in string of shootings over 1 day in NC
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in Durham, North Carolina, say a spate of gun violence has left two people dead and seven others injured in less than 24 hours.
The News & Observer reports the string of shootings began Monday when 24-year-old Kerry Graham Jr. was shot in the chest and killed at a bus stop in a drive-by. Four others were wounded between that and another drive-by shooting just minutes later.
Police said they responded to another shooting Tuesday afternoon and pronounced an unidentified man dead.
That evening, police responded to the fourth shooting near a shopping mall, where witnesses say shots were fired from a car. Three people were hospitalized, including two men with gunshot wounds and one woman injured by debris.
No arrests have been made in any of the shootings.
DUKE ENERGY-GRID COSTS
Multiyear rate option sought by Duke Energy in NC scuttled
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Legislative allies of the nation’s largest electricity company have given up this year on a proposal to let Duke Energy and other utilities seek multiyear rates from North Carolina state regulators.
House and Senate members who fashioned the negotiated bill weeks ago withdrew it on Tuesday, replacing it with a measure omitting the option for utilities to seek a key component of electricity rates for up to three years. What’s left is a provision to let utilities use bonds to pay for storm recovery costs.
A bipartisan Senate coalition had voted for the previous negotiated bill, but the House was divided on the multiyear rate option. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had signaled he would veto that bill.
The House unanimously approved the scaled-back measure on Tuesday. The Senate votes Wednesday.
NC House: In-state for athletic scholarship students OK
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Restoration of an old state law allowing University of North Carolina system campuses to treat out-of-state students with full athletic scholarships like in-state students has cleared one legislative chamber.
The House voted 88-19 on Monday night for the measure to repeal a 2010 state law that prevented the in-state tuition designation, which would generally benefit athletic booster clubs that cover the scholarships. In-state tuition is subsidized by the state.
But critics say somebody – namely taxpayers – would have to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, an amount that could reach millions of dollars a year annually.
Bill supporters say it’s a matter of fairness, since out-of-state students who receive full academic scholarships are already treated as in-state students.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
North Carolina absentee ballot rule changes get final OKs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators have finalized changes to mail-in absentee ballot rules in response to a state investigation of a congressional race last year that led to a new election.
A compromise bill given unanimous approval on Tuesday by the state Senate also would restore permanently early in-person voting on the last Saturday before state elections. The House followed later with near unanimous backing of the bill, which now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
Much of the legislation attempts to combat illegal ballot “harvesting.” Evidence of the practice surfaced in the 2018 campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat. A political operative and others working with the Republican candidate already face criminal charges.
The measure increases criminal penalties for people who attempt to sell or destroy others’ completed absentee ballots.
ELECTION 2020-NORTH CAROLINA-WARREN
Warren to hold first North Carolina campaign event next week
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is holding her first campaign event in North Carolina next week.
The campaign announced on Tuesday that the Massachusetts senator will hold a town hall-style meeting the evening of Nov. 7 at Raleigh’s Broughton High School.
A campaign spokesman also said more events would be announced soon for Warren in North Carolina, where Republican Donald Trump won the state’s electoral votes by 4 percentage points in 2016.
North Carolina’s primary is one of many scheduled for March 3 and is just three days after the key Democratic primary in South Carolina.
Warren primary rival Joe Biden held a campaign event last weekend in Durham.