House to have special session in June
The S.C. House has agreed to come back to Columbia in mid-June to handle redistricting plans for state and federal offices.
The House voted 109-0 Thursday to return at noon June 14, which is 12 days after the regular session ends. The special session is set to conclude by 5 p.m. July 1.
Legislators will vote on new lines for state House and Senate and congressional districts. The lines are redrawn every decade to balance out populations using the latest census numbers.
This year, legislators are mapping a new Seventh U.S. House district.
South Carolina's past voting rights violations mean redistricting plans must get U.S. Justice Department approval and survive legal challenges before becoming law.
Other items legislators can discuss during the special session include vetoes.
House bill shortens session by week
The S.C. House wants to shorten the legislative session by a week.
The House voted Thursday to send to the Senate a bill that would change the last day of session.
Legislators would wrap up the regular session on the last Thursday in May, rather than the first Thursday in June.
The House gave the bill a second reading Wednesday by a 95-7 vote.
The measure would save taxpayers money in mileage reimbursement to legislators and pay for meals and lodging. S.C. legislators receive a base pay of $10,400 yearly.
Governor takes aim at GOP in op-ed
Gov. Beverly Perdue is keeping up pressure on Republicans in the legislature to spend more money on public education in next year's budget, this time through the pages of North Carolina's newspapers.
Perdue's office released an op-ed column Thursday in which she argued that the $19 billion House budget passed this week will make the state's colleges, teachers and children the victims of "staggering cuts" that could eliminate tens of thousands of positions.
The column was released as Senate Republicans also met Thursday behind closed doors to review the House budget. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca said fellow GOP senators will consider whether it makes sense to debate and vote on the House budget without changes after the House passed it with what would be a veto-proof majority.
Bill would set towns' Internet services
The General Assembly on Thursday finalized rules governing N.C. municipalities that want to offer broadband services, apparently settling a years-long fight over how and when towns and cities can build networks competing with traditional telecommunications firms.
The House voted 84-32 to accept Senate changes to a package that now will head to Gov. Beverly Perdue.
Big telecom firms have argued that the handful of local governments that now offer such services have an unfair advantage and put taxpayers on the hook should they fail. Municipal leaders counter that it's the big companies who have let down their citizens by failing to offer high-speed Internet because they've decided it will cut into profit margins.
The bill would require towns and cities that want to enter the business to hold public hearings on their plans, require them to segregate financially the business from other government operations and bar them from offering services below costs. They also couldn't borrow money for the project without voter approval.
'Screwed by the town' sign irks town
The town of Cary is taking its case against a homeowner's sign to a higher court.
Town officials said Thursday they have asked the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to hear their appeal about a sign that David Bowden painted on his house.
Bowden says he wrote the sign that reads "Screwed by the town of Cary" because he blames a road project for damaging his home.
U.S. District Court Judge Louise Flanagan has ruled that the First Amendment protects the sign.
Town officials say the size of the message on the 48-square-foot section of the front of Bowden's house violates community standards. Officials say Bowden could have had the words painted on three smaller signs.
Cooper found guilty in wife's death
A N.C. jury has found a man guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 strangulation of his wife, who he said disappeared while out for a jog.
The jury returned the verdict Thursday against Bradley Cooper. Cooper showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict.
Prosecutors based part of their case on a map of the site where 34-year-old Nancy Cooper's body was found July 14, 2008.
The image appeared on her husband's computer three days before she disappeared.
Bradley Cooper said his wife went for a jog on the morning of her disappearance and never returned. Her body was found near the couple's home.
The Coopers moved to Cary from Canada in 2001 and had two daughters while living in the U.S.