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Suit challenging N Carolina special session goes to trial
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A legal challenge of a special session called by Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly to pass laws that eroded Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s powers is going to trial.
Three judges scheduled arguments Wednesday from lawyers for a government reform group and state residents who argue the December 2016 session was illegal. Lawyers for the state and the legislative leaders who got sued disagree.
The session occurred just weeks before Cooper took office and shortly after he narrowly beat GOP Gov. Pat McCrory. The lawsuit challenges the process that set up the special session and by which it was held. They want two wide-ranging laws passed during the session voided.
The trial should last only an afternoon. The judges said previously they would aim for a quick ruling.
After school district mergers, lawmakers study division
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Some North Carolina legislators believe it’s worth looking at whether allowing the breakup of school districts following decades of district mergers makes sense for students and local governments.
A General Assembly committee studying the potential division of districts holds its first meeting Wednesday.
The state has had 115 districts across its 100 counties since 2004. There were 174 districts in the 1950’s before city-county school board mergers increased for the sake of racial equity or fiscal efficiency.
Today, a dozen districts have more than 25,000 students. Some argue spitting districts up could make them more effective. Others worry it could lead to the resegregation of schools.
The committee is supposed to report to the full legislature by May 1. This year’s work session begins a couple weeks later.
COYOTE HUNTER KILLED
Hunting pastor mistaken for coyote shot, killed
(Information from: Statesville Record & Landmark, http://www.statesville.com/index.htm)
TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina pastor out hunting was killed when authorities say another hunter mistook him for a coyote.
The Statesville Record & Landmark reports the Rev. Michael Seth Marsh was shot and killed Monday night in Taylorsville. A release from the Alexander Count Sheriff’s Office says Marsh was using an electronic coyote call to hunt coyotes, and another man fired upon hearing the call and seeing something brown and gray moving near a tree.
Marsh was struck several times in the chest. The release says the shooter called 911 and administered aid upon realizing he hit a human. Marsh died around two hours later at a hospital.
Sheriff Chris Bowman says authorities haven’t determined if the unnamed shooter will be charged.
Marsh was the pastor at Russell Gap Baptist Church.
North Carolina House school safety panel details released
SHELBY, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina House members with education, law enforcement and mental health policy backgrounds will serve on a special committee to examine K-12 school safety standards and recommend any changes.
House Speaker Tim Moore announced Tuesday the more than 40 members to serve on the House Select Committee on School Safety. Moore and other legislators discussed committee details at a news conference in Shelby.
The committee’s creation comes after a school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead. Moore says it’s the duty of lawmakers to provide the highest level of physical security for classrooms.
The committee announcement came just before hundreds of people gathered at a Raleigh church late Tuesday. The group then marched to the old Capitol building to mourn the Florida victims and to demand gun-safety legislation.
ALCOA-NORTH CAROLINA DAMS
US Supreme Court denies NC’s riverbed rights claim on dams
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court is ending North Carolina’s fight for a say in the operations and ownership of four hydroelectric dams under the theory the state has owned the riverbed since statehood and the country’s independence.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied North Carolina’s effort to reverse lower federal courts in a five-year legal fight over water rights and electricity revenues the dams generated.
North Carolina argued the public benefits promised when Alcoa Corp. built the four Yadkin River dams to power an aluminum smelter ended when the company closed the plant in 2007. Alcoa sold the dams to Cube Hydro.
The state last November separately challenged federal regulators’ decision to issue a new license allowing the central North Carolina dams to generate electricity for commercial sale until 2055.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT PROTEST-NORTH CAROLINA
All charges dropped in case of toppled Confederate monument
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina prosecutors say they’re dropping all charges against the remaining five people who had been accused of toppling a Confederate statue last summer.
Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols announced the decision Tuesday, one day after a judge threw out charges against two people accused of tearing down the statue outside a Durham County government building. The judge also found one person not guilty.
Local news outlets report Echols said acts of vandalism still violate the law, even if they have a noble intent. But he said it wasn’t productive to continue the prosecution since the evidence for the remaining suspects is similar to that against those in court Monday.
Echols added that charges would also be dropped against another defendant who had previously agreed to a plea deal.
Western NC students walk out to protest mass shootings
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
COLUMBUS, N.C. (AP) – Students who walked out of classes in western North Carolina to protest mass shootings at U.S. schools say teenagers are tired of being ignored on the issue.
The Times-News of Hendersonville reports about 50 students left Polk High School on Tuesday and walked to the school entrance sign where they were greeted by an equal number of supporters.
Student body President Drew Bailey said school shootings are a humanitarian issue. Student body Secretary-Treasurer Luke Collins said students are tired of living in fear.
Students held cards with the names of 17 people killed last week at a high school in Parkland, Florida, when a former student went on a rampage with an assault rifle.
Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene supervised the event and helped direct traffic into the school.
Court: Abused wife can’t sue social services over murders
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina appeals court says an abused woman can’t sue her local social services department over alleged failures that allowed her estranged husband to shoot her in the face and kill her parents as their children watched.
The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that while people sometimes can sue the state for constitutional violations, government agencies and officials are usually shielded from lawsuits.
The three-judge panel said Latonya Taylor can’t sue the Wake County Division of Social Services and seek punitive damages. Instead, she must pursue a claim against the state through an administrative process that caps damages at $1 million per person injured.
Nathan Holden was convicted of first-degree murder a year ago. He shot Taylor and killed her parents, who sheltered the woman.