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Law and the Courts Top Story

Bipartisan elections bill wins committee approval, heads to state House floor

North Carolina House lawmakers will consider an elections bill today that would provide temporary funding and set up new election protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, but voting rights advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

State transportation officials grilled at Senate hearing over damning audit

If the North Carolina Department of Transportation's financial practices were a highway, it would be a steep mountain road knotted by switchbacks and imperiled by landslides — and one with few guard rails. DOT overspent its budget by nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in 2019, according to a performance audit of the department's expenditures released by the State Auditor this month.

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Education News Top Story

Lawmakers renew effort to assure statewide high-speed internet access

High school students in the small mountain town of Sylva have been going to extreme lengths to find an adequate place to complete their schoolwork. Because they don’t have broadband at home, these students—and thousands like them in rural North Carolina—roam their towns, searching for an internet signal so they can learn. “I have seen students sitting in their cars doing their homework trying to find somewhere with an internet signal,” Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon said at a press conference last week.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

North Carolinians are going back to work. Is it safe?

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats and the Trump administration are in an intensifying dispute over workplace safety as businesses begin to re-open in North Carolina and across the country. Democrats and labor groups have pushed the federal government to set new emergency regulations specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But so far, in North Carolina, there is only state and federal guidance — no enforceable regulations.

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Education Top Story

NC’s already dire childhood hunger problem has gotten a lot worse

State and local officials have been forced to improvise in an effort to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry kids Even before the pandemic forced schools to close in mid-March, food insecurity was a big problem in North Carolina. The state ranks 10th in the U.S. in the percentage of people — 15.1% — who at some point in the year don't know where their next meal is coming from...

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Big changes, challenges on the horizon as North Carolina courts move to reopen

On any given week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people went in and out of the Wake County courthouse without worrying about the crowds they’d encounter in the building. In courtrooms, defendants, attorneys, victims and public agency workers alike would squeeze into the pews as a judge conducted hearings on dockets that could drone on for hours. No one wore masks; no one compulsively sanitized their hands.

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Higher Ed News Top Story

Fetzer resigns from UNC Board of Governors

Controversial conservative cites family duties, but evidence indicates other board members forced his hand Tom Fetzer, one of the UNC Board of Governors’ most combative and controversial members, abruptly resigned Wednesday morning. Fetzer announced his decision at the end of the board's regular meeting, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that he and his wife need to prioritize homeschooling their five children in Wilmington.

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Environment Top Story

Legislators renew bipartisan push for DHHS study of potential cancer clusters

Mysterious cases of rare cancers have baffled North Carolina health officials, but incomplete data, inadequate surveillance and insufficient staff have hampered their ability to investigate suspected cancer clusters. Those conclusions and possible solutions, recently issued by a Cancer Research Advisory Panel, have been incorporated into two bills introduced by lawmakers last week.

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Environment Top Story

Nearly a billion birds producing five million tons of waste per year

NC's fast-growing and lightly-regulated poultry industry is a big and problematic source of pollution As Katy Langley Hunt flies in a plane above the green and brown patches of farmland in eastern North Carolina, she often points out the new poultry farms that seem to pop up overnight.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at our economic well-being

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly return to work this week with COVID-19 and the economic fallout of the pandemic at the top of the agenda. Even before this crisis hit, it was clear that how well a family may fare varies greatly throughout our state. Last week, the NC Budget & Tax Center released its annual snapshots for all 100 counties, offering a comparison of key economic and social indicators. Today’s Monday number’s column takes a closer look at those findings.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

PW special report: Voices from the pandemic, part 4

Restaurants, streets, parks and bus stops. All empty on a sunny afternoon. Owens Daniels had never seen his city quite like this. A seasoned photographer, Daniels began to document the eerie desolation of Winston-Salem in March, as the COVID-19 pandemic cleared streets, closed businesses and changed lives.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Legislators seek to prevent access to emails, other documents in voter ID lawsuit

North Carolina lawmakers say that they cannot be required to turn over communications and documents related to their most recent passage of a voter ID law because of an absolute legislative privilege. Six voters are challenging the law, enshrined in Senate Bill 824, which the legislature passed in December 2018 after voters approved a constitutional amendment on the subject..

Six voters are challenging the law, enshrined in Senate Bill 824, which the legislature passed in December 2018.

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COVID-19 Education Top Story

NC students likely to have trouble finding health, mental health services when schools return

Experts say NC's existing shortages of nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers will be aggravated by pandemic trauma Some students — especially those who are homeless or in difficult living situations — who have been unable to go to school because of the...

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Environment Top Story

Will state and county officials approve proposed bridge over troubled water?

Company proposing controversial Wake quarry wants to build truck bridge over polluted creek; environmental advocates seek a public hearing Wake Stone, the company behind a controversial quarry expansion next to Umstead State Park, has significantly changed its mining permit application to include a bridge over Crabtree Creek, a troubled tributary of the Neuse River.

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Higher Ed News Top Story

Despite controversy surrounding his biography, Ramsey elected to full term as UNC board chair

Behind the routine elections at the UNC Board of Governors this week there was drama. At the heart of the controversy: questions about Chairman Randy Ramsey’s official Board of Governors biography, which until recently said he earned a degree that he does not hold.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Universities get COVID-19 aid, but can’t share it with DACA students

WASHINGTON — Colleges and universities across the country are getting emergency federal aid for COVID-19, but some of the most vulnerable students won’t be eligible for assistance. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said the emergency grants — part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief act that Congress approved last month — can’t go to undocumented students...

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