Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
N Carolina legislative panel finalizing school safety ideas
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A legislative committee looking to improve North Carolina school and student safety following the Florida school shooting in February is finalizing its recommendations days before the General Assembly session begins.
The House panel meets Thursday and will consider ideas that surfaced following committee testimony in recent weeks.
One subcommittee recommends mandated training for police officers assigned to school campuses and routine vulnerability reviews for school buildings. The other subcommittee says more counselors, nurses, social workers should be hired for schools and teams created to help identify students exhibiting threatening behavior.
The full House and Senate would have to vote for any changes during the session. Such legislation then would go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. Cooper has made safety recommendations, but he also wants tougher gun sale restrictions, too.
Cooper unveils recommended North Carolina budget alterations
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has some ideas for changing the state budget. Whether any of those proposals happen depends on if Republicans like them, too.
Cooper planned Thursday to unveil all his recommended adjustments to the second year of the two-year state government spending plan. He’ll do so the week before the GOP-controlled General Assembly begins its annual work session.
House and Senate leaders have already agreed they’ll spend almost $24 billion during the year starting July 1 but are still working out details. Cooper could veto any budget adjustment bill sent to him, but the legislature could override it, like lawmakers did last year.
Cooper previously teased out some proposals, including $130 million for school safety and student support improvements and $60 million toward workforce training initiatives.
TIME’S UP-R KELLY
Local leader threatens R. Kelly protest in North Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – As critics of singer R. Kelly seek to cancel his shows because of his alleged mistreatment of women, a community leader in North Carolina says she and others will stage a protest if his Friday show in Greensboro takes place.
Brandi Collins-Calhoun is director of reproductive and maternal health for the YWCA Greensboro. In a letter to the Greensboro Coliseum, she said if the show isn’t canceled, she and other community leaders will be standing outside the arena in protest.
A spokesman for the coliseum wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Kelly has faced intense scrutiny in the last year after women have accused him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. He has denied the charges.
The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop his music from being played.
North Carolina congressional upset raises Democratic hopes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The defeat of North Carolina incumbent U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger in his Republican primary could give Democrats a wider opening to win the seat and control the House.
Pittenger became the first congressional incumbent to lose this year when the Rev. Mark Harris narrowly defeated him Tuesday in a 2016 rematch in the south-central 9th District.
Harris will begin the general campaign at a financial disadvantage over Democratic primary winner Dan McCready, whose campaign had more than $1 million in recent weeks.
Harris’ loyalty to President Donald Trump also will be tested as an asset or liability in a district where Trump didn’t perform as well in during the 2016 election compared with other North Carolina districts Republicans represent.
Video shows teen in prom attire choked by police officer
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
WARSAW, N.C. (AP) – A video posted to social media shows a teenager in his prom attire being choked by a police officer and slammed onto a Waffle House parking lot in North Carolina.
Warsaw Police Chief Eric Southerland told The News & Observer of Raleigh that his department and the district attorney’s office are investigating, and more information will be released. It wasn’t immediately clear what might have prompted the officer’s use of force.
One video posted to Facebook on May 8 shows the white officer slamming the black teenager against a window, then turning him around and gripping the teen’s neck. The officer then pins him to the pavement with his left hand on the teen’s head as other young people stand around them, recording the scene.
House GOP looks for right message after rough primaries
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans surveying the midterm election landscape are sharpening their message and assessing their standing with voters after watching their colleagues’ wipeout in high-profile primary elections.
Republican congressmen lost across the board in key races Tuesday. Two of them bruised each other so badly in Indiana’s Senate primary that they created an opening for a businessman and former state lawmaker, Mike Braun, to win the nomination. A Republican congressman lost his bid in the Senate primary in West Virginia, and another incumbent in North Carolina lost to a popular pastor of a megachurch.
Some Republicans are concerned that they’re going into battle this fall without the full armor of a forward-looking agenda that promises voters a to-do list of priorities if they keep majority control of the House.
Judge slashes $50M punitive penalty against pork giant
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge is slashing $50 million in damages that a jury awarded neighbors of an industrial hog operation to punish a pork producer for intense smells, noise and other disturbances.
U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt ruled this week that North Carolina law required him to cut the size of punitive damages to $2.5 million total for the 10 plaintiffs.
Britt cited state law that limits the punishment for corporate misdeeds to no more than $250,000 per person. That’s an amount 1/20th the $5 million that jurors ordered Smithfield Foods to pay each neighbor as punishment.
Neighbors of a 15,000-head Bladen County swine operation also were awarded $75,000 each in compensation for conditions that prevented them from enjoying their rural homes.
North Carolina mayor-elect arrested for DWI after victory
SHARPSBURG, N.C. (AP) – The newly elected mayor of a North Carolina town has been charged with driving while impaired moments after his victory.
News outlets report Robert Williams Jr. was elected mayor of Sharpsburg on Tuesday, a year after he lost the race by three votes. In a rematch ordered by a Wake County judge, Williams defeated incumbent Mayor Randy Weaver by seven votes.
Shortly after the polls closed, Williams was arrested after nearly crashing his car near town hall. Other charges include carrying a concealed weapon and resisting an officer.
Williams told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he has an attorney, but didn’t identify him. He’s scheduled for a June court appearance.
Sharpsburg is about 55 miles (88 km) east of Raleigh. It’s split between Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties.