Morning News Briefs: Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Morning News Briefs: Thursday, April 20th, 2017

5:23am Apr 20, 2017

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Special Session Challenge Latest Effort To Block GOP Laws

Laws approved by the Republican-dominated legislature that reduced powers of North Carolina's new Democratic governor are getting challenged again — this time on arguments the December special session in which they were approved was illegal.

Government reform group Common Cause and ten state residents sued Wednesday in Wake County. They allege legislative leaders violated the state Constitution when the session convened Dec. 14 after only two hours' notice.

GOP lawmakers proceeded to pass laws shifting control over administering elections away from incoming Gov. Roy Cooper and subjecting his Cabinet to Senate confirmation. Cooper and others already have sued over the laws, with mixed results in court.

Parents, Teachers Rally For NC Class-Size Law Fix

North Carolina parents and teachers worried about delays for a solution to address new class-size requirements in early grades this fall are urging the Senate to act on a proposal the House already approved.

A few hundred demonstrators — including school children — rallied Wednesday near the Legislative Building and Department of Public Instruction. Speakers and participants holding placards want Senate Republicans to pass the House measure easing restrictions on student-teacher ratios in kindergarten through third grade.

Some school districts say they'll have to eliminate instructors for foreign languages, art or music without a change.

Effort To Raise Craft-Brewing Self-Distribution Cap Fizzles

Another effort by North Carolina's craft-beer brewers to ease state limits on distributing their own products appears to have gone flat.

A new version of a House measure debated Wednesday in committee and designed to benefit the craft industry left out a previous provision to raise the self-distribution limit from 25,000 barrels a year to 200,000 barrels.

Bill sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville told the Alcoholic Beverage Control panel the provision was removed after opposition from the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. Its member companies distribute to retailers beverages from brewers producing above the limit.

High Point Women Plead Guilty To Defrauding Food Program

A federal prosecutor says two North Carolina sisters have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud a federal nutrition program to help stock their restaurant.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Hairston said in a news release that Rebecca Ingram and Mary Frances Ingram of High Point pleaded guilty in federal court in Winston-Salem on Wednesday to conspiracy to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Prosecutors said an investigation showed that between January 2015 and October 2016, the Ingrams, along with others, used more than 180 SNAP EBT cards to purchase food for Becky & Mary's Restaurant.

ACC Extends Deals With North Carolina Sites After Law Change

The Atlantic Coast Conference has added a replacement year to contracts for North Carolina venues that lost championships when the league relocated events due to a law limiting protections against LGBT people.

The ACC had pulled 10 neutral-site championships for the 2016-17 season. The state passed a compromise bill to roll back elements of the law in March, and the league announced a day later it would return to North Carolina in 2017-18.

The league announced Wednesday that restructured contracts would "compensate" venues with a replacement year as a host. That comes a day after the NCAA awarded several championship events to North Carolina from 2019-22 due to the law change.

Most notably, the ACC football title game will remain in Charlotte through 2020 instead of 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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