Fiscal year in N.C. begins with 30 new laws, higher DMV fees
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A number of fees levied by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is going up. As mandated by state law, the DMV is required to adjust fees and rates every four years, based on the percentage change in the annual Consumer Price Index during the past four years. The increase will be 7.86% for about 90 license and registration-related fees and takes effect on Wednesday. More than 30 new laws also are taking effect as state government’s fiscal year begins. They include 2.5% salary increases for most state employees and state law enforcement officers.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina to test all nursing home residents, workers
Raleigh, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has announced plans to test all nursing home workers and residents for the coronavirus over the next two months. Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says the partnership with CVS Omnicare will provide one-time COVID-19 tests to about 36,000 residents and 25,000 staff in more than 400 nursing homes across the state. A cost estimate was not immediately provided on Tuesday. Nearly half of all COVID-related deaths in North Carolina to date have come from nursing homes. There has also been 123 coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes thus far into the global pandemic, and those over the age of 75 are most vulnerable.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
North Carolina GOP won’t hold in-person annual convention
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Republican Party has canceled its annual in-person convention after the state health director recommended against holding it due to the COVID-19 transmission threat. The convention was originally set for May in Greenville, but GOP officials delayed the event until July. Now they’ll hold a virtual-only convention to choose delegates to the Republican National Convention and complete other business. President Donald Trump announced four weeks ago that most of the national convention would be moved out of Charlotte after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn’t agree that the president could have a full arena for his nomination acceptance speech.
Russian bounties further strain Trump’s bond with veterans
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The relationship between the nation’s veterans and President Donald Trump has been strained repeatedly over the last four years. But just four months before Election Day, new cracks with dangerous political ramifications are being exposed amid reports that Trump either ignored, or was unaware of, a Russian plot to kill U.S. troops. There was a significant outcry this week from retired servicemen, elected officials in both parties and families of fallen soldiers who have lost confidence in the president’s commitment to the troops. Any erosion in Trump support from the national security community could damage his reelection prospects, particularly in swing states with large military communities.
UNC-PUBLIC RECORDS SETTLEMENT
UNC fined $1.5M for inadequate campus crime reporting
Raleigh, N.C. (AP) — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has reached a $1.5 million settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Education over its failure to fully report information about crimes that occurred on campus. The department will monitor UNC for three years to make sure it offers more transparency when in its public records. Under the deal, which was announced Tuesday, the university must create a committee to comply with the Clery Act. A report last year found a “persistent failure” for the school to gather and share accurate and complete crime statistics.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-HOTEL POOL
Worker calls police on Black woman staying at hotel
WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (AP) — A worker at a North Carolina hotel has been fired after she called police on a Black woman and her child who were guests there and swimming in the pool. The Charlotte Observer reports the woman was using the pool at the Hampton Inn in Williamston when an employee approached her asking for proof that they were guests. A Hampton by Hilton official said the chain has zero tolerance for racism and discrimination of any kind. An Instagram post also said the worker who called the police was “no longer employed” and that the company apologized directly to the guest and her family.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-PUBLIC RECORDS
N.C. legislator: Public records provision will be addressed
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A top North Carolina legislator says lawmakers will soon will take another look at a bill that keeps certain police investigative records secret when forwarded to the state medical examiner. House Majority Leader John Bell cited on Tuesday a health measure currently on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. The measure sought by Cooper’s administration contains a provision that says certain death investigation records deemed confidential remain that way when handed to the medical examiner. Public records and prisoner advocates say the language makes probes into police or prison custody deaths less transparent. Protesters outside the Executive Mansion on Tuesday urged Cooper to veto the bill.
AUDIT-VIRTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOL
N.C. state audit: Virtual Public School courses need work
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state audit says some classes offered through North Carolina’s online public school portal aren’t meeting required content and design standards. Tuesday’s performance audit from State Auditor Beth Wood examined courses offered by the North Carolina Virtual Public School, used by tens of thousands of middle and high school students annually. Auditors determined that eight of the 12 virtual school courses it evaluated didn’t meet required curriculum content. The auditors also are concerned about course rigor. The state Department of Public Instruction disagreed with the audit’s top findings and says the analysis omitted the importance of teacher quality.