Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Trump’s convention demand comes amid Charlotte virus surge
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump’s demand that North Carolina guarantee a full-capacity Republican nominating convention in August is putting pressure on public health officials – and local Republicans – as virus cases surge and the host county tallies more cases and deaths than anywhere else in the state. A new state health department letter demands that Republican National Convention planners provide a written COVID-19 safety plan “as soon as possible,” noting Trump’s tweets amount to an “accelerated decision-making timeline.” By Tuesday, Mecklenburg County had at least 3,400 COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. A third of the cases were tallied in the past two weeks.
Election rule changes for COVID-19 considered in N.C. House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators are starting to debate proposed election rule changes this fall so people have wider paths to cast ballots despite COVID-19 health risks. House committees scheduled meetings on Wednesday to advance a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for someone to request a mail-in absentee ballot and for officials to recruit polling site workers. There would also be millions of dollars distributed to elections boards in part to upgrade security and equipment. Demand for absentee ballots is expected to soar this year. Other legislators and civil rights activists are seeking additional rule changes.
N.C. bond packages resurface after veto crumbled cash plan
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Borrowing money to pay for North Carolina government buildings and roads is surfacing again at the General Assembly after a pay-as-you-go construction expansion plan crumbled last year beneath a veto. Republican House Speaker Tim Moore and other representatives filed a measure this week that would put a $1.9 billion debt referendum on this November’s ballot. The full House sought a similar package last year, but Senate Republicans wanting to build using conventional tax revenues and without debt won out in legislative budget negotiations. Then, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the GOP’s budget in part because he favored a debt package.
North Carolina woman dies after being beaten in park
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Police say a woman who was assaulted in a city park in North Carolina has died. The Winston-Salem Journal reports 50-year-old Ella Lorine Crawley was found near a walking path in Gateway Commons Park in Winston-Salem last Saturday. Police said Crawley had visible head injuries, and police said she was in grave need of assistance. She died on Sunday. The North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office says Crawley died from blunt force trauma and strangulation. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, which would be the city’s eighth in 2020.
Smokies nonprofit to hold virtual firefly event on YouTube
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – The annual lottery to see the synchronous fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be canceled this year due to the coronavirus, but a Smokies-based nonprofit will be offering a virtual firefly event. According to a news release from Discover Life in America, the group is collaborating with firefly photographer Radim Schreiber. Their event will include a short presentation about fireflies followed by footage of synchronous fireflies, blue ghost fireflies and other firefly species native to the Smokies region. It takes place on Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on the Discover Life in America YouTube channel. It is free, although the group is suggesting a $5 donation.
Tillis runs first TV ad of Senate general election campaign
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis is talking about a nomadic childhood in the first general-election commercial of his re-election campaign. The first-term Republican’s campaign committee said the spot began running on Tuesday on television and online. He talks in the ad about about his family moving several times as a child and living “paycheck to paycheck.” Tillis is considered a major electoral target for national Democrats seeking to retake a majority in the chamber. Democrat Cal Cunningham won his party’s Senate nomination and has benefited from a recent fundraising boom. Cunningham and Tillis haven’t been conducting traditional campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GOP govs offer states as alternative RNC convention host
WASHINGTON (AP) – Two GOP governors are offering up their states to host the Republican National Convention, a day after President Donald Trump demanded assurances from North Carolina’s Democratic governor that the convention can go forward in August despite coronavirus fears. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump to consider his state as an alternate site. Kemp’s offer was followed by one from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, The convention is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials. Trump says he hopes to have the convention in Charlotte but needs certainty “within a week.”
Bars could serve outdoors in bill clearing N.C. Senate panel
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina bars closed due to the pandemic could again serve patrons who are outdoors in legislation that’s advancing in the General Assembly. One of two bills that cleared a Senate committee on Tuesday would allow bars and similar private clubs whose doors remain completely closed under Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order to sell beverages outside, whether on a patio or under a tent. Another measure expands further the customer capacity for restaurants and breweries allowed to partially reopen their indoor serving areas by going outside, too. The measures now head to another committee.