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This Hour: Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment

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XGR--COAL ASH

NC legislators push bid to regulate toxic coal ash

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina lawmakers are focusing on legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.

The state House on Wednesday approved legislation addressing the problem unmasked six months ago when a coal ash spill from a Duke Energy plant coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge. Final passage was expected in the Senate later Wednesday.

Environmentalists said the legislation improved on earlier efforts, but didn't go far enough.

Lawmakers said the measure would reverse a Superior Court judge's ruling that Duke must take "immediate action" to eliminate groundwater contamination that crosses onto a neighboring property. Environmental attorney Frank Holleman says that will allow Duke to study the problem indefinitely before starting cleanup.

FOOD LION-EEOC LAWSUIT

EEOC files lawsuit against Food Lion over firing

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against supermarket chain Food Lion, saying it refused to provide time off for a worker who is a Jehovah's Witness and then fired him.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday, Victaurius L. Bailey was hired as a meat cutter at a Food Lion in Winston-Salem. Bailey asked not to be scheduled for Sundays or Thursdays so he could attend church services and meetings.

Bailey's manager accommodated him, but he was transferred to a Food Lion store in Kernersville, where the manager said he didn't see how Bailey could work for Food Lion if he couldn't work on Sundays. Bailey was then fired.

A Food Lion spokeswoman said the chain hasn't seen the complaint and couldn't comment.

FRACKING HEARING

Hundreds attend fracking hearing in Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Hundreds of people are attending a public meeting in Raleigh on proposed rules for the oil and gas drilling method known as fracking.

Nearly 400 people filled an auditorium at North Carolina State University on Wednesday, with dozens addressing public officials. Most opposed fracking.

Susan McClanahan of Chapel Hill asked that energy companies set aside money for potential spill cleanup for a longer period than the rules require.

The meeting is one of four during a comment period that lasts until the end of September. The state Mining and Energy Commission will analyze the comments and consider revisions to the rules, which then must undergo a fiscal review before legislators have the final say.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law clearing the way for fracking permits as soon as spring.

SENATE DEMOCRATS-WOMEN

Democratic women teaming up in key Senate states

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Democratic women are teaming up to raise campaign cash in key states that will help decide the Senate majority.

Incumbent senators and hopefuls formed the Blue Senate 2014 joint fundraising committee on Aug. 13.

The candidates involved are Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Natalie Tennant in West Virginia and Michelle Nunn in Georgia.

In 2012, President Barack Obama lost four of the women's five states. Obama won New Hampshire by about 6 percentage points.

Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to take the majority from Democrats.

Hagan has been the best fundraiser of the bunch. She raised $12.7 million and had $8.7 million in her campaign account through June. Hagan faces Republican challenger Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker.

SUPREME COURT-HUNTER

Hunter fills Martin's NC associate justice seat

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A Republican Court of Appeals judge will join the state Supreme Court two months before he's scheduled to be on the ballot to run for the same seat on North Carolina's highest court.

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Judge Robert Hunter of Morehead City on Wednesday to become an associate Supreme Court justice and fill the remainder of Justice Mark Martin's term starting September 6. McCrory picked Martin to become the next chief justice when Chief Justice Sarah Parker retires Aug. 31.

Both Martin and Hunter are seeking full eight-year terms at their new positions in November. Martin faces Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis. Hunter is running against Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV.

Hunter's move creates a vacancy on the Court of Appeals.

CHILD DEATH CHARGES

Charlotte woman charged in infant's death

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A Charlotte woman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of her infant son.

Area media outlets report that 33-year-old Katherine Ann Jennings is in the Brunswick County Jail charged in the death of 8-month-old Luke Stephen Phillips. Jennings told investigators that she had been sleeping with the child when he died at their Oak Island home last December.

Authorities say 18 months earlier, Jennings lost another child who also suffocated when sleeping with her. No charges were filed in that death.

It was not immediately known if Jennings has an attorney.

Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger would not say what prompted the arrest but says his office has never brought charges in a similar case.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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