Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Even with consensus talk, gap remains for NC virus aid bills
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Differences between House and Senate funding priorities are becoming clearer as North Carolina legislators advanced competing COVID-19 emergency packages. Bills working their way the General Assembly on Wednesday showed the House wants to distribute or designate roughly $375 million more in federal dollars compared to the Senate. Senate leaders are taking a guarded approach to earmarking the funds given the state’s fragile budget picture. But senators did agree to add another $130 million at the request of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper before approving their package unanimously. Legislators still hope to get a final measure to Cooper’s desk by the end of the week.
Ex-congregant charged with breaking into minister’s home
UNDATED (AP) – A secretive evangelical church in North Carolina says hysteria over the new coronavirus may have motivated an ex-member with a gun to break into the home of one of the sect’s top ministers. But the now-jailed suspect said he was on drugs and doesn’t know why he ended up Sunday in the communal house where he once lived. Authorities say 23-year-old Stephen Cordes is charged with breaking and entering to terrorize or injure and drug possession. Cordes said in a phone call from jail he did not intend any harm and that he carries a gun for his protection, usually leaving it in his car.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COURT OF APPEALS
North Carolina appeals court online arguments is a first
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The COVID-19 outbreak means North Carolina’s intermediate-level appeals court will make history by hearing oral arguments in a case using online video. Three judges from the state Court of Appeals plan to listen to lawyers remotely on Thursday through videoconferencing, which will be a first for the court. It’s an appeal of a verdict in a civil lawsuit in which the plaintiffs alleged battery and won a monetary award. Members of the public also can watch the arguments online, like they can in person under normal circumstances.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-GASTON COUNTY
North Carolina public universities aim for fall 2020 restart
The leader of North Carolina’s public university system says he plans to reopen campuses in the fall with precautions against COVID-19. University of North Carolina System Interim President Dr. Bill Roper issued an announcement Wednesday that he expects to reopen classrooms across the system’s 17 public campuses for the fall semester, though with some limitations or modifications, as long as virus trends don’t deteriorate. áMeanwhile, a county near Charlotte issued a symbolic order urging the governor to ease statewide business restrictions, while acknowledging its residents are still subject to the governor’s stay-home order meant to fight the virus outbreak.
Flyers stoke debate over reopening the Outer Banks
MANTEO, N.C. (AP) – A flyer that’s being place on parked cars along part of North Carolina’s coast is telling visitors to go home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that the message is emblematic of an ongoing debate over the value of stay-at-home orders and the need to restart the crucial tourist economy on the Outer Banks. The flyer that’s been distributed in Dare County said: “Stop being so selfish and ignorant about this.” Dare County rebuked the sentiment in a statement. The county plans to allow nonresident property owners to come back on Monday.
Judge denies release of former FBI agent convicted of murder
LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A former FBI agent who was convicted of murdering his son in law in North Carolina will not get to leave prison because of the risk of getting coronavirus. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a judge denied the request on Tuesday. Thomas Michael Martens was convicted of murdering son-in-law Jason Corbett in 2017. Martens’ attorneys argued that the 70-year-old was at great risk of contracting COVID-19 at a state prison where he’s serving up to 25 years. Judge Mark Klass of Davidson Superior Court denied Martens’ request after hearing arguments in court.
Students sue universities in North Carolina for tuition
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – College students in North Carolina are suing universities in hopes of getting reimbursements for tuition and fees after campuses shut down and moved classes online during the coronavirus pandemic. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday that the institutions that are being sued include schools in the University of North Carolina system. Students say in the lawsuits that universities made the right decision to shutdown classes. But they claim that they were deprived of a college experience that includes in-person instruction, access to campus facilities and student activities.
N.C. session marked by empty seats, stay-home opponents
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly began its annual session by turning immediately to legislation to distribute COVID-19 federal relief funds amid unprecedented operating rules with social distancing in mind. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger gaveled in their floor sessions on Tuesday with only a few dozen legislators in attendance. The chambers hope to pass legislation addressing the coronavirus by the end of the week. Hundreds of demonstrators angry with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s extended statewide stay-at-home order greeted lawmakers while rallying for the third Tuesday in a row. They expressed their grievances in front of the Legislative Building.