SENATE TAX PLAN
NC Senate delays final vote on tax overhaul
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Senate has delayed a final vote on a tax overhaul plan to discuss changes with House members and Gov. Pat McCrory.
Senate Leader Phil Berger of Eden said Tuesday a scheduled final vote was being put off for talks with McCrory and the House, which already passed its own proposal. The Senate's plan tentatively passed last week. Berger said the proposal will be scheduled for action Wednesday.
The Senate plan cuts taxes by billions through a gradual repeal of corporate taxes and lower income tax rates. Proponents say it will boost the economy.
Critics have said it is not true tax reform because it doesn't make major changes to the sales tax code. Others say it will severely hurt state and local public services.
NC highway money changes near final passage
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Gov. Pat McCrory is just one vote away from receiving from getting the new distribution method he sought for transportation funds across North Carolina.
The House gave by a wide margin approval Tuesday to a new funding model that focuses more upon projects of statewide and regional importance that relieve congestion and encourage economic growth. The House only needs to again agree formally Wednesday to changes by the Senate before the bill goes to McCrory's desk.
McCrory and legislative leaders announced in April proposed changes to the current Highway Trust Fund formula that distributes money equally among the state's 14 transportation divisions.
The proposed formula distributes 40% of trust fund and federal aid money to statewide projects and 30% each to regional and division projects.
NC House panel OKs possible 75 mph speed limits
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Some North Carolina House members have decided to move Senate legislation ahead that would allow speed limits on some state highways to race up to 75 mph.
A House committee voted Tuesday for the bill allowing the Department of Transportation to set speed limits higher than the current 70 mph cap for some interstates and other highways if traffic and engineering allows it. The bill doesn't identify which roads could change, but committee members discussed rural stretches of Interstate 40 in eastern North Carolina as a possibility.
The bill already has passed the Senate and its next stop is the House floor.
The measure passed the committee despite some members saying they are worried higher speed limits will mean more highway accidents.
WELFARE BACKGROUND CHECKS
NC Senate panel backs welfare background checks
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A bill requiring North Carolina state workers to check the criminal history of welfare and food stamp recipients has passed a Senate panel.
A Senate judiciary committee unanimously endorsed the bill Tuesday, sending it on to another panel. The bill requires social services employees to see whether applicants or returning beneficiaries are fleeing from the law or violating parole.
A previous version required employees to immediately report red flags to local law enforcement, but the latest iteration requires social services to adopt rules for sharing that information first. The change arose out of concerns about complying with federal law.
Legislative staffers say the federal government already requires states to deny benefits to people with violations that are targeted by the bill. Critics have said the bill unfairly profiles welfare recipients.
NC Senate panel approves energy code rollback
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A bill rolling back energy-efficiency standards for commercial builders has passed a North Carolina Senate committee.
The Senate Commerce Committee endorsed a bill Tuesday that backers say will spur construction by eliminating the 2012 codes in favor of 2009 standards. The 2009 standards are 30% lower than today's energy-use benchmarks.
Critics argued the bill would jeopardize long-term energy savings in favor of limited short-term benefits. Democratic lawmakers asked Republican sponsors to make a compromise that would keep the 2012 standards in some instances.
The lobbyist for general contractors in the Carolinas said there's some division within the group but that anything done to minimize costs will help construction.
The bill has already passed the House and now heads to the Senate floor.
Divers look for teen in Henderson County lake
TUXEDO, N.C. (AP) - Divers are searching for a Hendersonville teen presumed drowned in Lake Summit in Henderson County near a railroad bridge where teens often jump into the water.
Authorities said 19-year-old Traverious "Tre" Carter was swimming Monday evening when he started shouting for help. Investigators say his friends couldn't rescue him before he went under.
Officials say the area of the lake has a railroad bridge where teens often trespass to jump in the lake.
Authorities say divers are struggling to find Carter because the water is up to 80 feet deep and the water temperature is just 40 degrees, meaning they can only stay under for about 15 minutes at a time.
Intermittent heavy rain has also slowed down finding Carter.
VENUS FLYTRAPS STOLEN
NC group offers reward for stolen Venus flytraps
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina environmental group is offering a $1,500 reward to find the thief who stole more than 1,000 Venus flytraps from a city garden in Wilmington.
The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust says it was outraged by the theft at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden where the organization holds a conservation easement and hosts a Flytrap Frolic for children in the spring.
Someone took almost 90% of the flytraps in the garden over the Memorial Day weekend. Each plant is valued at about $20.
The Coastal Land Trust collected the money for the reward through a new Flytrap Fund that will also help buy new plants for the garden and improve security.
NC court nixes complaint against Rep. Butterfield
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Court of Appeals has upheld the earlier dismissal of an elections complaint filed against U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield by his 2012 Democratic Primary opponent.
Daniel-Lynn Whittacre claimed Butterfield's most recent candidacy for the 1st Congressional district seat he has held since 2004 was invalid because he signed his initials G.K. rather than his full name when filing for office. State law requires those appearing on the ballot using a nickname to file an additional affidavit.
Butterfield went on to trounce Whittacre, winning 81% of the primary vote on his way to re-election. The North Carolina Board of Elections dismissed Whittacre's complaint in June 2012.
The three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously Tuesday, meaning Whittacre does not have the right of appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
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