Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Voter ID referendum last piece of work for General Assembly
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators will end their chief work session this year while likely finalizing a proposal for citizens to decide whether the state constitution should require photo identification to vote.
The General Assembly scheduled one last work day Friday for a session that began six weeks ago. Republican lawmakers have passed budget adjustments, overrode several of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes and put five constitutional amendments on the ballot.
A sixth amendment is expected with one more Senate vote Friday morning backing the photo ID referendum. Senators gave their initial OK on Thursday.
Lawmakers next plan to reconvene in late November, three weeks after big elections to decide whether Democrats end the GOP’s veto-proof majorities. Republicans could use that session to implement any amendments that voters approve.
In turnaround, Republicans revive Saturday for early voting
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina General Assembly Republicans have changed their minds and restored temporarily a popular day for early in-person voting eliminated in another measure that became law this week.
The Senate and House late Thursday passed legislation to allow the early voting period to continue until the Saturday before Election Day for this year only.
GOP leaders recently passed a law that shifted the starting and ending dates for the period so that it would end the Friday before the election. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure, saying it would make it harder to vote. Republican overrode that veto.
Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County said leaders responded to concerns about the importance of that Saturday’s voting. The turnaround measure was approved overwhelmingly and goes to Cooper’s desk.
More Cooper nominees for judgeship, education board rejected
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Four of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominees to state positions now have been rejected by the North Carolina legislature, including two choices to the State Board of Education he announced over a year ago.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly voted Thursday in a joint session against the confirmation of Sandra Byrd of Asheville and J.B. Buxton of Raleigh for the education board. A third choice was reappointed to an eight-year term.
Earlier Thursday, the state House voted against the confirmation of Bryan Beatty as a special Superior Court judge and Robert Harris to the state Industrial Commission.
Beatty is a former State Bureau of Investigation director and public safety secretary under Democratic governors. He recently wrapped up nearly a decade on the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
2 more Cooper vetoes overridden by General Assembly
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Two more vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of bills addressing judicial election districts and insurance have been overridden by the North Carolina legislature.
The Senate completed the overrides Thursday with majorities above the required threshold. The House voted to enact those bills over Cooper’s objections Wednesday.
One new law changes election districts for trial court judges or district attorneys in over a dozen counties. The decision means at least two judicial candidates would have to refile before judicial candidate filing ends Friday. Cooper’s veto message on the insurance bill focused on a provision related to the forfeiture of bail bonds.
The Republican-controlled legislature has now overridden five of Cooper’s seven vetoes he issued Monday. One outstanding measure duplicates the bail bonds provision. The other involves public retirement systems.
DUKE ENERGY-COAL ASH
N Carolina attorney general to challenge more coal ash costs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top attorney says he’s going to challenge a decision allowing the country’s No. 2 electricity company to charge consumers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up mountains of coal-ash waste.
State utilities regulators last week said they would review Duke Energy’s cleanup costs in central and western North Carolina and fined the company’s regional operating unit $70 million for mishandling coal ash over the years. The ash was left by burning coal to produce power.
Attorney General Josh Stein said Thursday the North Carolina Utilities Commission decision dumps $475 million for cleanup on consumers and he’ll challenge it in the state Supreme Court.
Stein said in April he’s also challenging the commission’s decision to pass along cleanup costs to Duke Energy Progress customers in eastern North Carolina.
Remap ruling keeps North Carolina’s current lines intact
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on North Carolina redistricting leaves intact General Assembly boundaries for this fall’s elections.
The justices ruled 8-1 on Thursday it was proper for a lower-court panel of federal judges to determine that four state House and Senate districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2017 still were illegal racial gerrymanders. The panel ultimately redrew the boundaries in and around those districts.
But the Supreme Court decided the panel went too far ruling changes in and around Raleigh and Charlotte violated the state constitution’s prohibition on mid-decade redistricting. The justices already had temporarily blocked the altered districts from use while it considered the case.
Thursday’s order means districts used in the May primaries do not have to be changed, and no special elections are required.
Woman found dead in Kansas ID’d; North Carolina man charged
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) – Police in Junction City, Kansas, have identified a woman whose body was found last month, and a North Carolina man has been charged in her killing.
Police on Thursday identified the victim as 59-year-old Tamra Ann Gibson of Asheville, North Carolina. She was last seen in Asheville on May 22 and was reported missing on May 24.
The body was found May 28 between two buildings in Junction City. Her car was found burned on June 1 in Laramie, Wyoming.
Authorities say 58-year-old Donald Mack Gray Jr. of Buxton, North Carolina, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. Gray is in custody in Billings, Montana, on charges related to the death of an 81-year-old Montana man. Police say the two cases are not connected.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Voter ID referendum close to final passage
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A proposed photo identification mandate to vote at the polls has received initial approval in the state Senate and is now just one vote away from being submitted to North Carolina voters in November.
The Senate voted 33-14 on Thursday for a referendum to amend the state constitution. A final vote is expected Friday, which is supposed to be the last day of this year’s work session. The House already approved the proposal earlier this week.
More than 30 states require some form of identification to vote, but only Mississippi and Missouri have constitutional provisions addressing photo ID. Arkansas will have a similar amendment on ballots this fall.
North Carolina legislators passed a photo ID requirement in a conventional law in 2013, but a federal appeals court struck down it and other elections provisions contained within.