A divided state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Republican-backed program that spends taxpayer money on tuition for students at private and religious schools.

The 4-3 decision issued Thursday split North Carolina's highest court along party lines, reversing a lower court ruling declaring the state's Opportunity Scholarships unconstitutional.

As the federal trial over North Carolina's election overhaul continues in Winston-Salem this week, one word has come up over and over again: disenfranchised. The U.S. Justice Department, the state NAACP and others contend the changes disenfranchised some African-Americans in 2014.

 A North Carolina senator has introduced a plan to block state agencies from acting on expected Environmental Protection Agency rules to curb emissions from power plants until the rules make it through expected long legal challenges.

Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, took action Wednesday against the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which was announced by the Obama administration last year. It's expected to require states to develop their own plans to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels. A final version of the plan is expected next month. 

Jeremy Loeb

embers of the North Carolina House and Senate will form a committee to tackle numerous proposed changes to the state's environmental regulations in hopes of reaching a set of compromises before the end of the summer.

The House formally voted on Wednesday to reject Senate changes to a regulatory reform bill which included new rules regarding air and water pollution, as well as less environmental issues such as ATV ridership.

More than 30 activists, lobbyists and attorneys gave public comment on the bill Tuesday, with many expressing concerns about health and pollution.

 North Carolina's jobless rate has inched up for the fourth month as it diverges from the declining national rate.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce said Tuesday that the unemployment rate for June was 5.8 percent, a slight increase from the previous month. The May rate was 5.7 percent.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 5.3 percent representing the third month it was lower that North Carolina's.

Seasonally adjusted figures show the state's labor force grew slightly since May. The growing workforce has been a positive sign for the state's economy.

Governor Pat McCrory says he will veto a Senate bill to redistribute more sales dollars to rural North Carolina counties, a promise which prompted a bitter response from the bill's Republican sponsor.

McCrory released a statement Tuesday saying he would veto the bill, which has not yet passed a committee vote. The statement says that instead of sales taxes, the Senate should be focused on the governor's plan to borrow money to fund infrastructure and road development across the state.

Warren Wilson College has joined a growing number of colleges and universities that now allow students to choose whether or  not to submit their S.A.T OR A.C.T exam scores as part of their application for admission.  According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing more than 800 accredited schools offering bachelor’s degrees, including more than one-third of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges, have test-optional policies.

The Regulatory Reform Act started out as a one-page bill that dealt with moving gravel on trucks. When it re-appeared, it was a massive 50-plus page reform bill. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources objected to many of the provisions, and negotiated several changes. Environmental advocates say they didn’t go far enough.

Tony Kiss
Asheville Citizen-Times

Its a fabulous weekend in Western North Carolina.  The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands  is underway at the U.S.

A court decision on the future of the Asheville Water System is expected soon.  The city is challenging a state imposed plan to transfer control of its water system to a regional authority.  In the meantime, a Western North Carolina county is considering a voluntary transfer of control of its water system to a South Carolina Water District.  David Hurand spoke with reporter Jon Elliston with the on-line investigative news service Carolina Public Press about the future of the Polk County Water System.