SENATE BUDGET INCLUDES NEW FEES FOR ELECTRIC AND PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES: The proposed budget approved by the Senate on Friday would increase the annual fee paid by owners of electric vehicles by $100, to $230 starting next year. Owners of plug-in hybrid vehicles would face a new registration fee of $115 a year. Both fees would be adjusted for population growth and inflation annually starting in 2021. A similar proposal was included in an early version of the House budget but was stripped out before the plan was approved by the House. Budget negotiators from the House and Senate will have to decide whether the proposal ends up in the final version of the budget the General Assembly sends to the governor. Owners of electric vehicles have paid a special annual registration fee since 2013, and it was raised to $130 two years later. But this would be the first time hybrid vehicle owners would face such a fee.
GOP FUNDRAISING LANDS ALDONA WOS ANOTHER CUSHY AMBASSADORSHIP: The Trump administration is considering Republican donor Aldona Wos to be its next ambassador to Canada, according to two people familiar with the plans. Wos, a retired physician who served as U.S. ambassador to Estonia under George W. Bush, would succeed Kelly Craft, who has been nominated to be the envoy to the United Nations, said the people, speaking on condition of anonymity. No announcement would be made until after Craft is confirmed and in the new position, an official said. The White House communications staff said they had no personnel announcements and declined to comment further. Wos and her husband, Louis DeJoy, who both raise money for the GOP, are from North Carolina. Wos, born in Poland, served previously in the state government under Republican Governor Pat McCrory.
CHAR-MECK POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH FALSE IMPRISONMENT: Detectives with a North Carolina police department have charged a police officer with false imprisonment. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say in a news release on Friday that the detectives were notified last Friday that 26-year-old Officer Joseph Carranti was involved in a domestic-related incident while he was off duty. According to the investigators, Carranti intentionally and unlawfully restrained an unidentified person without their consent. Police said detectives presented the case to a magistrate and a warrant was issued. Carranti was then arrested. Also, police said a Mecklenburg County District Court judge granted a domestic violence order, which prevents Carranti from having any contact with the victim for 10 days.
FDA HOLDS ITS FIRST HEARING ON CBD-RELATED PRODUCTS: The acting head of the Food and Drug Administration launched the agency’s first hearing on CBD products Friday with a laundry of list of questions about cannabidiol, better known as CBD, which is already being sold in pills, tinctures, skin lotions, sodas and dog food. How much of the cannabis extract is safe to consume daily, he asked at the jam-packed, all-day hearing at FDA headquarters in Silver Spring. How will it interact with other drugs? What if a consumer is pregnant? What is CBD’s effect on children? What happens if someone takes it over the course of years? During the 10 hours of testimony that followed, hemp growers, start-up businesses, academic researchers and consumer advocates argued about how FDA should regulate the already booming CBD industry. Some demanded strict oversight. Others — especially companies with millions at stake — lobbied for looser regulation. But the common theme among them all: FDA needs to figure out its rules sooner, rather than later.
TRUMP TARIFFS ON MEXICO JEOPARDIZES TRADE DEAL AND US BUSINESSES: If Trump were to proceed with a series of escalating tariffs on goods from Mexico, the economic damage could be far-reaching. Mexico is all but sure to retaliate with its own tariffs and probably aim them at U.S. farm products. Mexico last year bought $300 billion worth of U.S. goods and services, second only to Canada. And the United States imported $378 billion from Mexico, No. 2 to China. U.S.-Mexico trade includes significant business between auto suppliers and assembly plants that are interwoven in complex cross-border supply chains. Products that are traded between the two countries tend to cross each other's borders multiple times. Many automakers, including General Motors Co., ship vehicles manufactured in Mexico into the U.S. Those cars could be subject to Trump's tariffs. "The suddenly renewed potential for tariffs on goods from Mexico revives a risk (for automakers and suppliers) many believed was largely behind us" after the signing of the USMCA, said Itay Michaeli, auto analyst at Citi Research. "This new uncertainty is a clear negative for auto stocks."