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June 22, 2018 - 12:00 am

NORTH CAROLINA-GOVERNOR

GOP amendment would pull governor from elections board loop

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some North Carolina Republican legislators are determined to remove Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and future governors from involvement with a state panel administering elections and ethics laws.

House Republicans unveiled late Friday a proposed constitutional amendment that would put all appointments for the state elections and ethics board in the hands of the General Assembly. Right now, Cooper picks all members.

Like the current board, no party would comprise a majority of the membership of the board the amendment envisions.

The proposal will be heard Monday in a House committee. It's one of several amendments GOP lawmakers want to submit to voters in November.

GOP legislators and Cooper have been fighting over the board's composition and powers since just after Cooper was elected in late 2016.

DUKE-RATE INCREASE DENIED

N Carolina regulators deny Duke Energy rate increase request

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina regulators have denied a request from Duke Energy to raise electric rates and ordered the utility to refund $60 million in deferred taxes to customers.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission also decided Friday to fine Duke Energy $70 million because of the way it handled coal ash.

The Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary serving about 2 million customers had requested a rate increase of an extra $472 million per year, or an average of about 8.5 percent. That's after public hearings and a partial settlement with the state's official consumer advocate.

The utility wanted to increase rates to pay for a nuclear power plant that won't be built and charge customers additional billions of dollars to upgrade the power grid in central and western North Carolina.

COOPER-BILL SIGNINGS

March primary, opioid crime measures signed by Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's even-year primary elections are moving from May to March and police will get a new tool to track illegal opioid transactions with Gov. Roy Cooper signing nearly 30 bills into law.

Cooper announced Friday he's signed one-third of the more than 75 bills on his desk that must be acted on by either Sunday or Monday. Bills neither signed nor vetoed by the deadlines become law automatically.

The primary date shift begins in 2020 for presidential primaries, along with races for governor, congress and scores of federal, state and local positions. Lawmakers set a March 2016 primary so presidential candidates would pay more attention to North Carolina.

The opioid measure allows an investigator to get records from the state's controlled substance database without a warrant or court order.

MARINE-COURT-MARTIAL-CHARLOTTESVILLE

Marine connected to Charlottesville rally faces imprisonment

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — A U.S. Marine identified as an assailant during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been convicted at a court-martial, and the Corps is seeking to remove him from its ranks.

A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina said in a news release that 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis was sentenced to 28 days of confinement Monday and is being processed for "administrative separation."

The Corps had been investigating charges that Pistolis disobeyed an order or regulation and made false statements.

The spokesman said he couldn't provide further details about the charges.

The court-martial came after ProPublica and Frontline PBS reported in May that Pistolis was a member of a neo-Nazi group and bragged about violence he committed at the rally.

Pistolis couldn't immediately be reached.

FORMER TEACHER-SEX CHARGES

Ex-North Carolina teacher accused of sex offenses with minor

STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A former North Carolina high school teacher has been arrested on sex offenses involving a minor.

The Gaston County Sheriff's Office says 54-year-old Jonathan Conrad Busch of Mooresville is charged with two counts each of statutory rape of a child under the age of 15 and indecent liberties with a child.

Gastonia Police Officer R.S. Lewis said in an arrest warrant the indecent liberties and statutory rape charges involved the same girl and occurred between June and September 2016.

Busch was a former teacher at Lake Norman High School in Mooresville who was hired in July 2003. Iredell-Statesville Schools officials say Busch resigned this week.

Busch was arrested and released on a $20,000 bond. It's not known if he has an attorney.

NEW PARTY-CANDIDATES

Constitution Party nominees who ran last month off ballots

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three people nominated by a new official North Carolina political party to run in November won't be on ballots because of a law finalized this week.

The state elections board wrote three of the 10 announced Constitution Party candidates Thursday telling them they're disqualified because of what's known as a "sore loser" provision.

The legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill that says a new party can't pick a candidate for an office if the person lost in another party's primary race for the same office. Primary losers already can't run later as unaffiliated or write-in candidates.

The barred Constitution Party candidates wanted to run for the state House and for two county commissions.

A Constitution Party official has warned the provision would be challenged in court.

JOGGER FINDS BODY

Police: Man found by North Carolina jogger had knife wounds

CHALROTTE, N.C. (AP) — Police say a man whose body was found by a jogger in North Carolina's largest city had suffered knife wounds.

A news release from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said the body of 51-year-old Jose Mario Chicas man was found Thursday morning.

Witnesses said it appeared the man had stopped at a convenience store Wednesday night and was attacked after he left the store. Some witnesses said it appeared Chicas had been robbed and shot.

No arrests have been made.

Capt Allan Rutledge said police will increase their patrols in the area.

FORMER GOVERNOR-DOG SCULPTURE

Ex-North Carolina governor barks at successor over sculpture

(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has a bone to pick with his successor over a dog sculpture.

The Charlotte Observer reports McCrory blames Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for the removal of a metal sculpture of his dog, Moe, from the grounds of the governor's western residence in Asheville.

Speaking on his radio show on Friday, McCrory said the sculpture was not just to honor his dog, but to pay tribute to efforts to rescue dogs from puppy mills.

In the first legislative session after his election in 2012, McCrory's wife, Ann, championed a bill requiring breeders to provide daily exercise, fresh food and water, and veterinary care for their dogs. The bill failed to pass the Republican controlled Senate.

McCrory lost a tight race to Cooper in 2016.

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