Associated Press

Attorney General Challenges Regulators Over Coal Ash Charges

North Carolina’s attorney general on Wednesday challenged regulators for allowing Duke Energy to start charging consumers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up coal ash dumps and add a potential profit margin. State Attorney General Josh Stein’s office said in a filing to the North Carolina Utilities Commission he considers its decision to pass along what could total billions of dollars for handling the potentially toxic chemicals in coal ash to be “unlawful, unjust, unreasonable, or unwarranted.” Stein is appealing the commission’s February decision to the state Supreme Court. The commission allowed the company’s Duke Energy Progress operating...

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College Basketball Panels: Ban Cheats, Let Players Go Pro

The Commission on College Basketball sharply directed the NCAA to take control of the sport, calling for sweeping reforms to separate pro and college tracks, permit players to return to school after going undrafted by the NBA and ban cheating coaches for life. The independent commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the group was formed by the NCAA in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme, and high-profile programs such as Arizona,...

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Group Won’t Endorse Lawmakers Who Voted for HB 2 Replacement

North Carolina’s leading gay rights group says it won’t endorse in this year’s General Assembly elections incumbents who voted for legislation last year partially repealing the “bathroom bill.” Equality North Carolina announced its decision Tuesday, two weeks before primaries. It could affect dozens of legislators, especially Democrats historically more likely to receive backing. Equality NC opposed both the 2016 law also called House Bill 2 and the replacement law. HB 2 required transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to their birth certificates, and barred local government non-discrimination ordinances. The replacement law kept bathroom policy in the state’s hands...

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Threat Teams, Peer Counseling Recommended for School Safety

Some North Carolina legislators studying school safety improvements agreed Monday to back mandates for schools to formally identify troubled youth needing help and for programs that let young people mentor classmates. A subcommittee of a House school safety panel on student health issues also agreed more people needed to be hired to fill gaps and vacancies for school counselors, nurses, social workers and psychologists. The subcommittee didn’t identify exact increases in employment or spending levels. Reaching staff-student ratio standards set by national organizations likely would take years to complete. The recommendations and related legislation have a long way if...

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Former UNC, NFL Standout Dee Hardison Dies at 61

Former North Carolina defensive tackle Dee Hardison, a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame who played 11 seasons in the National Football League, has died. He was 61. Tim Butler of Butler & Son Funeral Home in Clinton confirmed that Hardison died on Saturday at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where he had been hospitalized for several weeks. Hardison was named to The Associated Press all-America first team in 1977. He was co-captain of the 1977 team that went 8-3-1, won the Atlantic Coast Conference title and finished ranked 17th after losing to Nebraska, 21-17, in...

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N Carolina Teacher Pay, Student Spending Improved Last Year

An annual public school teacher pay and spending review shows North Carolina improving while still behind national averages for both. The National Education Association released figures Monday with North Carolina ranked 39th in average teacher pay during the 2016-17 school year at just under $50,000. The state was 41st the previous year. On per-pupil spending, North Carolina was 39th compared to 42nd the year before. The NEA also estimates North Carolina moving to 37th in pay this year at $50,861 but still 39th in spending. The legislature increased pay annually in recent years, after rankings fell during the Great...

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Deposed North Carolina GOP Leader Testifies for Lawsuit

A top North Carolina Republican Party official says he’s testified in pending litigation by state Democrats challenging the elimination of judicial primary elections for this year by the GOP-controlled General Assembly. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said he completed the testimony Monday morning at a downtown Raleigh law firm. Woodhouse had objected to his deposition by Democratic Party lawyers, accusing them of trying to pry political strategy out of him. A GOP lawyer filed a motion last week to block the subpoena, but the judge in the case hadn’t addressed the request before the deposition time. Woodhouse said by...

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Bernie Sanders in North Carolina Calls for Moral Economy

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has told a North Carolina audience that the nation needs a “moral economy.” Sanders’ visit Thursday night to Duke University in Durham included his usual push for free college, universal health care and a $15-per-hour minimum wage. Sanders had pushed those same ideas in his unsuccessful Democratic president campaign in 2016. He said people should be able to live with dignity and security in the wealthiest nation in the world. Sanders appeared with the Rev. William Barber II, former head of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Monday protest movement in Raleigh....

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2 Agencies Reach Settlement on Homeowners’ Insurance Rate

Homeowners’ insurance rates in North Carolina are headed for an average increase of nearly 5 percent. The state Department of Insurance and the North Carolina Rate Bureau announced Wednesday they have agreed on a 4.8 percent increase statewide. The Rate Bureau wanted an 18.7 percent rate increase. The increase will vary according to territory with a cap of 5.5 percent statewide instead of the 25 percent increase for coastal homes proposed by the Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies. Coverage on a $200,000 frame home on the Outer Banks will see an average $10 per month increase. The agreement...

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Sen. Berger Aide Auth Taking Job at UNC-Chapel Hill

A longtime top aide to North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger is leaving her job to become a lobbyist for the state’s flagship university. Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Auth has been Berger’s chief spokeswoman and held other responsibilities since he became Senate president pro tempore in 2011. Auth announced Wednesday she would begin early next month as director of state affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Auth is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and has worked in Republican politics and state government essentially ever since. She worked for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and U.S. Rep....

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