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N Carolina Democrats, Republicans gather for conventions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Activists for North Carolina’s major political parties are gathering separately this weekend for their annual conventions to energize the faithful heading into the fall elections.
The state Republican Party’s annual meeting begins in earnest on Friday in Hickory. Democratic Party leaders and delegates meet Saturday afternoon in Raleigh for their convention.
GOP sessions Saturday feature speeches by several notable politicians, including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Saturday night the GOP holds a “Gala Honoring the 2nd Amendment,” with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis as a top-tier speaker.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is the keynote speaker at the Democrats’ Sanford-Hunt-Frye breakfast Saturday morning before the convention.
2 members of secretive NC sect charged with fraud conspiracy
Two members of a secretive church in North Carolina have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in an alleged unemployment benefits scheme.
Marion Kent Covington and Diane Mary McKinny were charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Asheville.
Prosecutors say 63-year-old Covington and 65-year-old McKinney decided in 2008 to lay off employees at Covington’s business so they could collect unemployment benefits. But the employees continued to work.
Most employees were members of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina. Prosecutors say Covington used his leadership position in the church to force them to comply.
The Associated Press reported in September that authorities were looking into unemployment-claims issues at congregants’ businesses. That report was part of the AP’s ongoing investigation into claims that church leaders had abused congregants for years.
Rape kit tracking system advances at N Carolina legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly have advanced legislation creating a statewide tracking system for sexual assault evidence kits.
Identical bills receiving Senate approval and tentative House approval Thursday stem from a February audit that counted about 15,000 untested rape kits were held by law enforcement agencies across the state.
Attorney General Josh Stein has said it would cost about $10 million to test the entire backlog. The bills don’t contain money, but instead first create a working group to decide testing priority for the backlog. Republican lawmakers said they wanted to get the testing process in place before deciding how much money to test those kits deemed necessary to review.
This backlog is different from any kits currently awaiting testing at the State Crime Lab.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-WOMAN DIES
Authorities: Woman burned in domestic violence incident dies
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a North Carolina woman who was set on fire during a domestic violence incident last December has died.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office told news outlets 44-year Teresa Ann Stallings died Thursday.
A sheriff’s office SWAT Team and a hostage negotiator responded to a home Dec. 7 after a call about a burn victim. Deputies found Stallings with burns so severe she was immediately flown the burn center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
The sheriff’s office said 30-year-old Anthony Harrison Moore of Hendersonville was taken into custody. At the time, Moore was charged with assault on a female and resisting a public officer.
Maj. Frank Stout said an investigation remains open and talks with the district attorney’s office continue.
Voter ID proposed again, this time as change to constitution
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republicans are poised again to advance a photo identification requirement to vote in North Carolina, despite their previous attempt getting struck down by federal courts.
House GOP leaders introduced Thursday a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would add a photo ID mandate to the qualifications to vote. It would be on ballots this November if the referendum is agreed to by the Senate and House.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly passed a photo ID law in 2013, but a federal appeals court determined three years later that the mandate and other voting restrictions were passed with discriminatory intent targeting black residents. GOP legislators disagreed.
Senate leader Phil Berger says he expects a proposed amendment would get widespread support in his chamber from fellow Republicans.
School displays of US, N Carolina mottos approved by House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Public schools would have to display the official U.S. and North Carolina mottos in prominent areas in legislation that’s cleared one General Assembly chamber.
The House voted 95-14 on Thursday for the mandate for “In God We Trust” and the North Carolina motto, which is “Esse Quam Videri” in Latin, or “To Be Rather Than To Seem” in English. Both state motto translations would be displayed.
The state already requires the U.S. and North Carolina flags be hung in classrooms and the Pledge of Allegiance recited daily.
The debate focused on “In God We Trust,” which bill opponents say would favor one religion over another. But backers say the measure simply acknowledges a belief in God as part of the nation’s history.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
INAPPROPRIATE CONTACT-TEACHER CHARGED
More sexual misconduct charges filed against ex-teacher
MONROE, N.C. (AP) – More charges have been filed against a former North Carolina teacher already accused of sexual misconduct with a student.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office told news sources 35-year-old Daniel Wade Stanford is accused of inappropriate contact with two additional students. The latest allegations come just a few weeks after Stanford was accused of sexual misconduct with a former student at a middle school.
According to the sheriff’s office, the student told authorities about the inappropriate contact with Stanford in early May. He was arrested on May 19 after an investigation.
Detectives believe the incidents with the first student took place between 2014 and 2015. Stanford, who resigned last month, is charged with indecent liberties with a student, indecent liberties with a child and simple assault. His status wasn’t known Thursday.
NC Senate backs limits to law that allowed $51M pork verdict
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Senators in the country’s No. 2 hog-growing state want to further shield industrial-scale hog operations from lawsuits by neighbors who’ve long complained that open-air animal waste pits comparable to city sewage plants frustrate their daily lives.
North Carolina’s Senate tentatively approved legislation Thursday to make it more difficult lawsuits that claim an agricultural operation created a nuisance for existing neighbors. Final legislative passage could come next week.
Lawmakers acted weeks after neighbors won a $51 million jury verdict from pork giant Smithfield Foods after decades of complaints about smells and other nuisances to industry-friendly politicians. That was cut to about $3 million because North Carolina law limits damages that punish misdeeds.
The second of potentially dozens of similar lawsuits is in its second week before a Raleigh jury.