COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA
Judge postpones hearing in coal ash lawsuit
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A federal judge is postponing a hearing on a lawsuit filed by an environmental group claiming Duke Energy violated the Clean Water Act by allowing its coal ash pits to pollute a major Charlotte waterway.
Judge Max Cogburn was supposed to decide Wednesday whether a lawsuit filed the Southern Environmental Law Center could move forward. But the judge agreed to give Duke time to file a new motion.
The lawsuit says Duke's ash pits are polluting the Catawba River, the main source of Charlotte's drinking water.
But Duke says the lawsuit should be dismissed because state regulators are taking enforcement action against the company.
A coal ash spill from one of Duke's plants last month coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
FOOD STAMP FUNDING
NC coming up against another food stamp deadline
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's health secretary says it will be "extremely difficult" to erase a backlog of outstanding food stamp applications by the end of the month to comply with demands from federal regulators.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos (vahsh) made the comment Wednesday to a General Assembly oversight committee. WRAL-TV reports Wos told lawmakers that county social service offices and state employees will have to work hard to handle all applications waiting longer than 30 days. That's fewer than 1,700 applications.
The state already met a Feb. 10 deadline from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to handle more than 20,000 applications and renewals pending for more than 90 days. USDA threatened the loss of $88 million to continue administering the program unless the deadline was met.
TRAFFIC STOP SHOOTING
SC deputy cried after shooting 70-year-old man
YORK, S.C. (AP) - A York County deputy who shot a 70-year-old man reaching for his cane during a traffic stop last month broke down in tears as other officers arrived.
The sheriff's office release dashboard camera video of the stop Wednesday. It shows Bobby Canipe (kah-NYP') getting out of his truck and reaching for a cane on a dark highway.
Deputy Terrance Knox ordered him to "drop the gun" then almost immediately fired several shots, hitting Canipe once. Knox then almost as quickly seemed to realize Canipe had a cane, then cursed and rushed to help.
Sheriff Bruce Bryant says after watching the video he still thinks the officer did the right thing.
The shooting is still under investigation.
GOP candidate: some groups contemplate infanticide
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Republican Senate candidate in North Carolina is defending his remarks that some abortion rights groups contemplate infanticide.
Greg Brannon, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, told a group in November that killing babies who survived abortions could happen in America, according to a report Wednesday in Mother Jones magazine.
"Florida's trying to do it right now," Brannon was quoted as saying at the time. He also mentioned Planned Parenthood.
Brannon's spokesman confirmed the remarks Wednesday and said he was referring to 2013 testimony by a Florida Planned Parenthood lobbyist before a state House committee.
Asked what should happen to a baby born alive after a botched abortion, the lobbyist said the decision should be between the doctor and the woman, according to the magazine.
Planned Parenthood later said the situation was extremely unlikely, but if it did occur, a Planned Parenthood doctor would provide appropriate care to the woman and infant.
LOCAL BUSINESS TAXES
Local governments could face $100 business tax cap
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Legislators at the General Assembly are interested in streamlining how local governments can tax North Carolina businesses in a move that could take away millions of dollars from the state's largest cities.
A committee that focuses on tax issues unveiled Wednesday a new version of a bill that would repeal the business privilege license tax municipalities can charge and replace it with a new tax that would be capped at $100 per business location.
Legislators say the broad authority towns and cities currently have creates disjointed tax rates for businesses depending on where they're located. Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport says some governments have abused their authority.
The lobbying group for North Carolina's municipalities is concerned about the lost revenue. Estimates range from $11 million to $25 million.
More winter weather possible in NC mountains
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for portions of the mountains of western North Carolina.
The advisory is in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday in Avery, Graham Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Haywood and Yancy counties.
Up to 3 inches of snow is expected across the region near the Tennessee state line.
Duke Energy reports it is making good progress in restoring service to customers who lost electricity in last week's storm. Duke said fewer than 1,900 customers were still without electricity Wednesday morning.
The biggest problems continue to be in Alamance and Guilford counties. Service was expected to be restored by Wednesday night.
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