Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EDT

June 13, 2018 - 12:00 am

US SENATE-VACANCIES

Legislature considering change on US Senate vacancies

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators believe political parties should have more say over whom the governor picks to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy.

The Senate voted Tuesday evening for a measure that would require the governor to appoint someone from a list of three people recommended by the executive committee of the party with which the outgoing senator was affiliated. The party would need to offer options within 30 days.

A similar version of the bill cleared the House last year but needs one more House vote before it could go to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk.

Legislative staffers say North Carolina is among 36 states where the governor's temporary appointee remains on the job until the next scheduled statewide election. Only Hawaii currently requires the governor to choose from a party's list.

AP-US-HOG-SMELLS-LAWSUITS-

No. 2 hog state moves to greatly help agribusiness in suits

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Lawmakers in the country's No. 2 hog-raising state are pushing ahead with protection for agribusiness by all but blocking neighbors who suffer nuisances from suing farm operations.

A North Carolina House committee on Tuesday approved the proposal that was unveiled and passed the Senate in the past week.

Supporters say sharply restricting nuisance lawsuits against agribusinesses will keep alive rural towns that turned to livestock after the tobacco and textile collapsed.

Opponents say nuisance lawsuits are one of the last tools left to force change from an industrial-scale hog industry that hasn't changed despite decades of complaints about open-air waste pits emptied by spraying on fields.

A federal jury recently hit pork giant Smithfield Foods with $51 million in penalties after neighbors complained for years about smells and other nuisances.

PRIMARY ELECTIONS

Legislators OK moving N Carolina presidential-year primaries

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Primary elections in 2020 and future even-numbered years — including presidential primaries — would be permanently moved from May to March in legislation heading to Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.

The General Assembly gave final legislative approval to the shift in an overwhelming Senate vote Tuesday. The House and Senate passed slightly different versions in 2017, but no action had occurred for a year.

The legislature moved the 2016 primary to March to attract presidential candidates to visit North Carolina and to be a more significant player in the nomination process. This year's primary reverted to May.

The bill also would move the candidate filing period for even-numbered year elections from February to December of the previous year. This would apply to candidates for statewide, legislative and local offices.

OFFICER FIRED

Police officer in S Carolina fired after N Carolina arrest

FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) — A police officer in South Carolina has been fired after authorities in North Carolina say she was charged with drug possession and driving while intoxicated earlier this month.

Fort Mill Police Chief Jeff Helms said he fired 55-year-old Tanya Ervin-Leonhardt on June 3, one day after she was arrested about 45 miles (72 kilometers) away in Cherryville, North Carolina.

Cherryville Police Chief Cam Jenks told media outlets Ervin-Leonhardt was pulled over after someone reported her passing other cars recklessly and yelling at least one other driver.

Jenks says officers smelled alcohol on Ervin-Leonhardt's breath and she refused to take a sobriety test. Officers also found 12 grams of marijuana in her car.

Ervin-Leonhardt worked for Fort Mill Police for 16 years. It wasn't known if she had a lawyer.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

New online ad disclosure requirement narrowly OKed by panel

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — New requirements on web-based political ads in North Carolina campaigns have narrowly cleared a legislative committee.

The House Elections Committee voted 12-11 late Tuesday for a measure designed to address the rapidly increasing use of social media platforms to get out political messages.

Candidates already report to state regulators when they buy ads with campaign money on places like Facebook. The bill defines what digital media communications are and requires an online ad to disclose who purchased it. And non-candidates paying for ads that name a candidate — called electioneering communications —must report the expense when meeting certain thresholds.

Supporters say the bipartisan bill would bring transparency to these new ads, but some Republicans called the measure complicated and needed more work.

The bill's next stop is the House floor.

TRANSPORTATION DEBT

Road-building debt bill approved by N Carolina legislature

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A method to accelerate local and regional road-building projects in North Carolina by authorizing up to $3 billion in debt has made it through the General Assembly.

The legislation that permits the borrowing is heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk following Tuesday's House vote. Cooper is expected to sign the bill, which passed the Senate last week.

Cooper's transportation department asked the Republican-led General Assembly to permit the issuance of what's called "special indebtedness." The borrowing is not subject to a voter referendum and could commit the state to additional debt payments over the next 25 years. It would be repaid through dedicated transportation taxes and DMV fees.

Rep. John Torbett says the bill will keep road-building levels stable while lawmakers ultimately locate new revenue sources.

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Protesters push for SBC to adopt reform measures

DALLAS (AP) — About two dozen protesters gathered outside the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention are pushing for three changes to church operations.

They say they want more inclusion of women's voices in the SBC and a database to record and track those accused of misconduct. They also want seminarians and others trained on how to address domestic violence.

Carol Shelton of Fort Worth says domestic violence and sexual abuse have been given little attention because the victims are normally women.

Michael Maschenik, pastor of Unity Baptist Church near Macon, Georgia, counters that a database would be redundant from the ones kept by authorities. He says no one in the SBC supports or condones abusive behavior.

The two-day annual convention that began Tuesday will include consideration of a draft resolution co-signed by dozens of SBC leaders to repudiate any rhetoric or behavior that dishonors women.

TEXTILE PLANT CLOSING

Company to close North Carolina plant, eliminating 63 jobs

(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)

BOONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina company says it will close a textile plant later this month, eliminating 63 jobs.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported Parkdale Mills said it will close the yarn-making plant in Boonville by June 29.

The Gastonia-based company said the phasing out of jobs would begin immediately with departments closing as production ends.

The company cited "business reasons" for the decision. It did not offer details for the explanation. The company said some employees may be offered jobs at other Parkdale plants.

The company has nearly two dozen domestic plants, including locations in Lexington, Sparta, Thomasville and Walnut Cove.

Bobby Todd with the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce said Surry Community College is helping employees, and the partnership will assist Parkdale in finding a future use for the plant.

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