Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
RNC to conduct official convention business in Charlotte
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump won’t accept his party’s nomination in North Carolina, but the Republican National Committee confirmed that it would still hold meetings in Charlotte. Trump announced Tuesday that he will not be giving his acceptance speech in Charlotte because the state refused to give in to his demands that the event be held without public health restrictions due to the pandemic. The RNC plans to visit several cities to evaluate their options. A GOP spokesman confirmed that the convention’s official business will be kept in Charlotte. The RNC’s top considerations to host Trump include Orlando, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; New Orleans, Dallas and Phoenix.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TASK FORCE
COVID-19 order directs efforts to fix N.C. racial disparity
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has unveiled a state commission and other initiatives to address socioeconomic and health disparities for African Americans and Latinos in North Carolina underscored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooper announced on Thursday a task force that will collect information and identify solutions to health access issues, economic opportunities for minority-owned business, education and environmental justice. Cooper pointed to disproportionate numbers of black and Hispanic residents diagnosed with the coronavirus. The task force will be led by state Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders. The order also directs state agencies to work toward equity in the distribution of COVID-19 recovery funds and virus testing.
N.C. legislators aiming to reopen gyms despite Cooper order
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina gyms could reopen thanks to legislation advancing in the state Senate that would essentially overturn Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 executive order keeping them closed. The measure approved on Thursday by a committee would allow the gyms and health clubs to reopen at 50% capacity. It’s another effort by lawmakers to overturn Cooper’s restrictions that have kept certain types of businesses shuttered during the pandemic. Legislation already on Cooper’s desk would allow bars to reopen outdoors. Cooper has defended keeping bars and gyms closed based on health decisions, but late Thursday left open the possibility that they could reopen sooner than now anticipated.
North Carolina man riding moped falls off bridge into marsh
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a moped rider is recovering in a hospital after he fell off a bridge and into a marsh. The Wilmington Police Department says in a news release that 32-year-old Ian Jones was riding back and forth between lanes on Wednesday when his moped clipped a truck that was trying to pass him. Police say Jones was thrown off the moped and off the Isabel Holmes Bridge and into the marsh below. Jones was taken to a local hospital, and police said he was charged with failure to maintain lane.
ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-PRIMARY RUNOFF
Trump endorses Bennett in western N.C. primary runoff
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump has endorsed Lynda Bennett in the Republican primary runoff for a western North Carolina congressional seat held until recently by new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Bennett got Trump’s support in a tweet on Thursday as early in-person voting began within the mountainous 11th Congressional District. The election between Bennett and Madison Cawthorn is June 23. Bennett was the top vote-getter among 12 Republicans in the March primary but failed to get enough to avoid a runoff. Meadows had announced in December he wouldn’t seek reelection and endorsed Bennett before the March primary.
Court grants Williamson stay on improper-benefits inquiry
MIAMI (AP) – A Florida appeals court has temporarily granted NBA rookie Zion Williamson’s attempt to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. Thursday’s order granted Williamson a stay and paused proceedings in the lawsuit from Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford. The lawsuit filed last summer accused Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson had filed his own lawsuit in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.
N. Carolina 2019 farm bill finally OK’d, omits controversies
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators have finally completed the General Assembly’s annual agriculture policy bill, albeit the one that was first debated in 2019. The Senate gave final approval on Thursday to a compromise measure that also got House support on Wednesday. It now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. An agreement between House and Senate negotiators last summer got waylaid over controversies on hemp production and farmers who want to offer shooting sports on their land. Language addressing both topics were omitted from the final bill. A Senate negotiator says hemp production will continue to follow rules under a production pilot project.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS MEMBERSHIP
Southern Baptists see 13th year of membership decline
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The nation’s largest Protestant denomination is almost 2% smaller than it was in 2018. The Southern Baptist Convention released its 2019 membership numbers on Thursday. They show a membership decline of more than 287,000 people. That brings the total membership of the Nashville-based denomination to 14.5 million last year. It was their 13th straight year of decline. National Congregations Study Director Mark Chaves says it mirrors a national trend that is driven by generational differences. He says, “Younger people are less likely than older people to attend religious services and to be religious.”