Latest North Carolina News:
Senate Democrats pitch bills to expand voting access in NC
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Senate Democrats say they’ll soon offer bills to expand access to voting. The Democrats announced on Thursday plans to file legislation that would make voter registration of eligible citizens automatic when they turn 18 and permit same-day registration on Election Day. They also want to make permanent a nine-day window in which absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day could be received and still count. State law allowed a three-day grace period, but a legal settlement expanded it for 2020. Republicans in charge of the legislature opposed that settlement. Senate Republicans have since filed legislation to pull back the deadline to Election Day.
NC bill directs governments to release more personnel info
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina state agencies, local governments and school boards would be required to release reasons why employees got fired or demoted in legislation filed in the state Senate. The bill filed on Thursday by four Republicans would expand the information that government employers would have to disclose in public records requests. The measure is backed by the North Carolina Press Association. The measure would require agencies and boards to provide a “general description of the reasons” why someone was fired, dismissed or suspended. The measure also would apply to community colleges and regional mental health agencies.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina to open COVID vaccines to all adults April 7
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – All North Carolinians who are at least 16 years old will qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine April 7. Essential workers not yet vaccinated can get their shot starting March 31. Some counties have already began expanded eligibility to all adults due to lack of demand in their own communities. State health officials are shifting their distribution strategy over the next three weeks to give more doses to regions where a smaller share of residents have been vaccinated. Those who are 16 or 17 years old can get a Pfizer shot. Adults 18 or older can get a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Smokies offering Storybook Trail for families this spring
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – A trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be lined with pages from children’s storybooks this spring. Beginning April 3, families can walk the Storybook Trail of the Smokies to see a story unfold. In the process, children will learn about things they are seeing around them in nature. The event will take place on the one-mile Cosby Nature Trail near Cosby Campground over an eight-week period. The trial will feature four books published by Great Smoky Mountains Association. They can be purchased at smokiesinformation.org. More information is available on the Storybook Trail of the Smokies Facebook page.
Tornado outbreak strikes Alabama, Georgia; at least 5 dead
Blaring tornado sirens and howling winds roared across parts of western Georgia early Friday as severe storms pounded southern states. Meteorologists say a large, dangerous tornado struck metro Atlanta’s Coweta County and surrounding communities, sparking a tornado emergency. It comes after a tornado outbreak blew through Alabama on Thursday. Authorities say at least five people died in the storms in Alabama. Several homes were destroyed, trees splintered and businesses damaged. Thousands of customers were left without power. No deaths were immediately reported in the severe weather in Georgia. Several school districts were closed or delayed Friday due to the damage.
New problems arise for crop storage as planet gets warmer
MECOSTA, Mich. (AP) – Climate change is posing new challenges for crop storage, a part of agriculture that’s often overlooked. Michigan produces more potatoes for chips than any other state because its outdoor air is usually cool enough to store them for months. But temperatures have edged upward in recent decades. Mecosta County grower Brian Sackett has bought several refrigeration units to supplement the ventilation fans on his operation. Scientists say there will be fewer days this century when potatoes and other crops such as apples and peanuts can be stored long-term without refrigeration. That may boost costs for consumers, as well as producers.
NC Senate bill would raise declared juvenile delinquency age
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Children ages 6 to 9 in trouble with the law in North Carolina could no longer be declared criminally responsible in juvenile court in legislation approved unanimously by the state Senate. The bill approved Thursday would raise the minimum age for juvenile delinquency from 6 to 10. That means more young people would be kept out of criminal proceedings in juvenile court. The children would get help from juvenile court counselors instead. North Carolina currently has the lowest allowable age for a child to be declared delinquent. The bill next goes to the House for consideration.
NC House tries again for eminent domain referendum
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina House is trying once again to let voters alter the North Carolina Constitution to put limits on when local and state governments can seize private property. The chamber voted on Thursday to put a proposed constitutional amendment on eminent domain before voters in a referendum next year. The House has voted for similar questions at least eight times since the mid-2000s, but the Senate has never gone along with the idea. The proposed amendment would make clear condemnation of private property is barred except for a “public use.” The legislation is a reaction to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision.