Voter ID lawsuit to NC Supreme Court in accelerated appeal
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to accelerate appeals in a photo voter identification lawsuit by hearing the case without waiting for the Court of Appeals to deliberate first. The justices on Wednesday granted the request of lawyers for minority voters who successfully sued at the trial-court level to bypass arguments at the intermediate-level appeals court. In September, a divided panel of three trial judges threw out the state’s 2018 photo ID law, ruling that it intentionally discriminated against Black voters. Republican leaders disagreed and appealed. Oral arguments could happen this summer. Two other voter ID legal cases are pending.
DRIVING WHILE POOR
Settlement over N. Carolina driver license revocations OK’d
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement designed to help tens of thousands of North Carolina residents whose driver’s licenses are revoked only because they can’t afford to pay traffic fines and court costs. The settlement signed by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder and disclosed Thursday essentially ends a 2018 lawsuit. The settlement directs the Division of Motor Vehicle to send letters and emails to about 185,000 people letting them know about the legal process to seek the waiver of traffic fees and court costs. Similar notices will be sent in the future before revocations are complete.
Preservation work set for bridges over Pee Dee River
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three bridges over the Pee Dee River will soon undergo preservation work approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation. A news release says the U.S. Highway 74 bridges at the Richmond-Anson county line and the N.C. Highway 731 bridge at the Montgomery-Stanley county line will receive a variety of upgrades, including deck treatments, new joints and substructure repairs. The contract was awarded to a California contractor who can start working in late March. The project is scheduled to be complete by spring 2024.
Lawyers ask US justices not to block new NC Congress map
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some voters and advocacy groups who successfully challenged previous North Carolina redistricting maps are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an effort by state Republicans to block new congressional lines. They filed briefs Wednesday in response to an emergency request by GOP legislative leaders last week. The Republicans argue it was wrong for state judges to redraw the state’s 14 congressional districts. They say the U.S. Constitution leaves that to legislators. Wednesday’s briefs argue that state courts have authority to invalidate plans that violate a state’s constitution. They also argue it’s too late to alter lines when candidate filing for the May 17 primary ends Friday.
New NC voter challenges question Rep. Cawthorn’s candidacy
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An effort to block North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy by questioning his qualifications in light of U.S. constitutional language about insurrectionists has been officially revived. Two voters from the new 11th District filed their request Wednesday for an investigation of the first-term Republican. Previous challenges were recently set aside because redistricting has shuffled where districts lie. Cawthorn is a close ally of former President Donald Trump, who spoke at the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Cawthorn says he’s never participated in an insurrection and has sued to overturn North Carolina candidate challenge process as unconstitutional.
Former NC Rep. Mark Walker files as US Senate candidate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker has filed as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Walker turned in his paperwork to seek the Republican nomination with the State Board of Elections on Wednesday. He’s following through on a decision he reaffirmed publicly several weeks ago. Walker initially announced his candidacy in December 2020. He’s trailed in fundraising to current Rep. Ted Budd and former Gov. Pat McCrory in the May primary field. And Budd won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Walker’s campaign had said he was offered Trump’s endorsement if he ran for a House seat in central North Carolina.
SCHOOL BUS OVERTURNS
North Carolina school bus driver cited in accident
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) — Officials say a North Carolina school bus driver is facing a charge and has been suspended from her job after her bus crashed near a school, injuring 11 students. News outlets report the Johnston County school system and the N.C. State Highway Patrol said a bus went off the right side of the road Monday near Cleveland High School, then crossed to the left and overturned. The driver was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries and cited for failure to maintain control. The patrol says the students were treated for minor injuries.
Horsch now NC Senate leader Berger’s top communications aide
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former journalist is now the top communications aide for North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger. His office announced this week that Lauren Horsch has been elevated to deputy chief of staff for communications. Horsch succeeds Pat Ryan, who is leaving state government to start a public relations firm. She joined Berger’s office in 2019 as a communications adviser. Horsch previously worked at publications such as the N.C. Insider state government news service, The Herald-Sun of Durham, The Des Moines Register and The Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids.