Associated Press

Health Officials: 34 Flu Deaths in North Carolina Last Week

Health officials announced Thursday there were 34 flu deaths in North Carolina last week, the fourth straight week in which the death toll has exceeded the previous week’s total. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said in its report that one of the deaths for the week ending Feb. 3 was identified as a pediatric death, specifically someone between the ages of 5 and 17. That person wasn’t identified, nor was the location of that death. The total marks the highest one-week figure since flu season began last October. For the season, there have been 140 flu-related...

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Duke Energy Wants End of Case to Clean Tainted Groundwater

A state appeals court will hear whether it should allow a five-year-old lawsuit trying to force Duke Energy Corp. to clean up groundwater contaminated by its North Carolina coal ash pits. The Charlotte-based electricity utility argues to the Court of Appeals on Thursday that the lawsuit should be dismissed. Duke Energy lawyers say the company is following deadlines set by a state law requiring excavation or other closure of the pits. Conservation groups pushing the case say Duke Energy is doing little on its own to clean up groundwater pollution that’s lasted for decades. One of the country’s largest...

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Democrats, Allies Ask North Carolina Judges to Change Maps

North Carolina Democratic voters and their allies aren’t giving up on getting more General Assembly districts changed for this year’s elections, even after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Plaintiffs in a longstanding legislative redistricting case in state court Wednesday asked three judges to rule the Republican-controlled legislature violated the state constitution by redrawing five House districts last summer. A panel of federal judges previously decided those redrawn districts in and around Charlotte and Raleigh were unconstitutional and ordered they revert to lines approved in 2011. But the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday stepped in and temporarily blocked that change...

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North Carolina Lawmakers Returning for Work, Possible Votes

North Carolina lawmakers will soon return to work after keeping the General Assembly session in a holding pattern for weeks while Republicans negotiated some bills and awaited court rulings. The Senate and House have floor meetings Wednesday, and a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger says senators could vote on legislation. A Senate committee scheduled confirmation meetings for some of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s appointees. House and Senate Republicans have said other floor votes could occur at least Thursday and Friday. The uncertainty stems largely from court decisions affecting judicial primaries and redistricting. The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday...

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Supreme Court Rejects Some Redrawn North Carolina Districts

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected some but not all of the North Carolina legislative districts that federal judges redrew for this year’s elections. The justices partially granted Tuesday the request of Republican lawmakers who argue the House and Senate maps they voted for last summer were legal and didn’t need to be altered. A three-judge panel determined those GOP-approved boundaries contained racial bias left over from maps originally approved in 2011 and violated the state constitution. So the judges hired a special master who changed about two dozen districts in all. The judges approved them last month. The...

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US Supreme Court Declines Quick Congressional Map Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to speed up the expected appeal over whether North Carolina’s congressional district boundaries are illegal because Republicans drew them to win most of the seats. The court issued an order Tuesday denying a request by election advocacy groups and voters wanting an expedited briefing schedule, with oral arguments in April. The denial means it’s more likely the current congressional map will be used in this year’s elections. The order said Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have granted the motion sought by Common Cause, League of Women Voters and others. A...

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Cooper: Business Must Use Political Capital to Stop Tax Cuts

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wants North Carolina business leaders to speak up for public education funding by telling the Republican-controlled legislature to block additional income tax cuts set to take effect next year. Cooper gave the challenge Monday at the annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh. The conference is focusing on how to expand early childhood education and health care and their connection to a well-trained future workforce. Cooper says individual and corporate tax rates have been previously reduced, and further cuts could create future budget shortfalls. He says the business community needs to use its “political capital” to...

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Attorneys Say Evidence Tampering in James Jordan Murder

The killer serving life in prison for murdering NBA legend Michael Jordan’s father has seen his bid for a new trial postponed for months after a new state law forced off the judge weighing his request. The Fayetteville Observer reports the law affects Daniel Andre Green, who with an accomplice killed James Jordan along a North Carolina road. His body was dumped in a South Carolina swamp. The law stops retired judges who return to the bench to fill judicial gaps from taking lengthy cases unless they involve business disputes. Retired Superior Court Judge Michael Beale said he had worked on...

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Judge: 5,500 Doctors at 2 Med Schools Covered by Pay Lawsuit

About 5,500 faculty will be represented in a class-action lawsuit alleging two prestigious North Carolina medical schools conspired to depress their wages by agreeing not to poach professors from each other. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ruled Thursday that the lawsuit filed by former Duke University physician Dr. Danielle Seaman can be expanded to include all medical professors who taught since 2012 at the Durham school or at the University of North Carolina, 10 miles away. The Chapel Hill university was dropped from the lawsuit last month in return for turning over internal documents to Seaman’s lawyers. Both UNC...

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Judge Restores Judicial Primaries for Appellate Court Races

A North Carolina law that cancels primaries this year for judicial seats has been partially halted. A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction directing state election officials to hold primaries for appellate court judgeships in May. But U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles refused to restore primary elections for local trial court seats. Democrats sued to overturn the law and asked Eagles to step in, with candidate filing for other races starting Feb. 12. Eagles agreed with Republican lawmakers who argued primaries were canceled as they debate changes to District Court and Superior Court election boundaries. But Eagles...

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