Drama eases on NC budget as Gov. Cooper plans to sign it
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to sign the legislature’s final budget bill has eased the drama about whether the two-year spending measure would be vetoed or ever take effect. The House and Senate scheduled separate votes for Wednesday on the plan. The Senate already gave its initial approval to the bill on Tuesday, shortly after the Democratic governor announced he would sign the measure when it reaches his desk. He said the good within the plan outweighed items he disliked. All budget voting should be complete by Thursday. The measure describes how to spend $26 billion this year and $27 billion next year.
Retired violin professor pleads guilty to child sex charges
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a longtime University of Michigan violin professor pleaded guilty to transporting an underage girl across states lines for sex back in 2002. The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit said Tuesday that 68-year-old Stephen Shipps faces up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced. Shipps was indicted last year on charges alleging that he took a girl across state lines several times between February and July of 2002 with the intention of having sex with her. His arrest came two years after the university placed him on paid leave when former students accused him of sexual misconduct while he taught them in the 1970s and 1980s in Nebraska and North Carolina.
Lawsuit challenges North Carolina rules on transgender ID
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A lawsuit filed on behalf of an adult and two minors in federal court says North Carolina’s requirement that transgender people undergo sex reassignment surgery is discriminatory, and not in line with a majority of states and medical organizations. Three law firms joined to file the lawsuit in North Carolina’s Middle District Court on Tuesday. Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan says Niorth Carolina statutes requiring people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery in order to correct a birth certificate is “antiquated.” The lawsuit says 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico permit people to correct the sex designation on their birth certificate without the need for surgery.
N. Carolina AG files lawsuit over kid-friendly e-cigarettes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has announced he’s suing the founders of an e-cigarette maker over his concerns that their product is being marketed to children through kid-friendly flavors and poor age verification. Stein said at a news conference Monday that he is suing Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen. He also said he’s launching a statewide investigation into several e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Stein also said he would urge the head of the Food and Drug Administration to create national, industry-wide regulations on flavored e-cigarettes. A Juul spokesman had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
PONZI SCHEME-DEVELOPER SENTENCED
North Carolina developer sentenced to prison in Ponzi scheme
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says a North Carolina real estate developer has pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme that defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina says in a news release that 36-year-old Joshua Matthew Houchins of Raleigh was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Monday for wire fraud and possession of firearm by a felon. He was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution of $1.7 million to his victims.
Contracts awarded for makeovers to North Carolina roads
CARTHAGE, N.C. (AP) — The N.C. Department of Transportation says several highways and secondary roads in a portion of North Carolina are set to get makeovers. A department news release says the work in Division 8 is scheduled to begin in the spring. In Moore County, a $4.1 million contract was awarded to improve 18.3 miles of highway. That includes two sections of U.S. Highway 1, five sections of N.C. Highway 5, and sections each of N.C. highways 22, 211 and 690. The department also says a $3.8 million contract was awarded for work in Randolph County targeting 10 sections of secondary roads totaling 21.4 miles.
Summer trial set for N. Carolina ballot probe defendant
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge has set a trial date next summer for a political operative accused of ballot fraud involving a 2018 congressional election whose results ultimately got thrown out. Leslie McCrae Dowless appeared in Wake County court with his lawyer on Monday to address 13 criminal counts filed against him related to activities from the 2016 and 2018 elections. Dowless declined to accept a plea agreement offered by District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. A judge set the trial for next August. He’s already scheduled to begin serving a six-month federal prison term in a few weeks after he pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud.
NC House Democrats Adcock, Hunt aim to switch to Senate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two North Carolina House Democrats have announced they are seeking seats in the state Senate in 2022. Rep. Gale Adcock of Cary says she’ll run for a seat in western Wake County where current Sen. Wiley Nickel lives. Nickel already has said he’s running for Congress next year. And Rep. Rachel Hunt of Charlotte also announced Monday that she is running for a Senate district in southeastern Mecklenburg County. The senator living in that district is Sen. Jeff Jackson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Hunt is the daughter of former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt.
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