LEGISLATURE MULLS HUGE INCREASE IN FEES FOR EVS AND HYBRIDS: A proposal to ratchet up the annual registration fee for a hybrid or an electric vehicle cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday. Senate Bill 446 calls for increasing the fee on electric vehicles from $130 to $275 over the next three years. A new fee for hybrids would be imposed as well, starting at $87.50 and growing to $137.50 by 2022. After 2022, the fees would be adjusted every four years to keep up with inflation. Sen. Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg, said the higher fees could discourage people from buying a hybrid or an electric vehicle. Davis said that isn't his intent, and Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said the proposal is simply a matter of fairness. "Without any question, on the roads that they travel, [these vehicles] will cause just as much of a problem as my light pickup truck, and I'm paying 36 cents a gallon to ride on that road," Rabon said. "It is only fair that they pay an equal amount."
3RD DISTRICT REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE ALL IN ON TRUMP'S WALL: State Rep. Greg Murphy, a doctor from Greenville, said the border is “overrun.” He added there’s “empathy” for immigrants fleeing violence in their home countries, but it is not the U.S.’ “job to be the breadbasket for everyone.” Currituck Commissioner Mike Payment, a businessman from Grandy, also said the U.S. needs to turn back illegal immigrants, arguing they claim government benefits and therefore make it harder to take care of Americans. State Rep. Michael Speciale, of New Bern, also claimed that illegal immigrants are bringing drugs, crime, and disease, and those must be addressed. Customs and Border Protection officials have reported most narcotics come through ports of entry, not between them. Several candidates also explicitly agreed with Trump’s designation of the border situation as a national emergency, including Murphy; Speciale; Michele Nix, a former state Republican Party vice chairwoman of Kinston; and Dr. Joan Perry, also of Kinston.
UNC POLICE CHIEF TOPPLED OVER SILENT SAM INCIDENT: The police chief at North Carolina’s flagship public university is retiring after an investigation found campus police were unprepared for demonstrators who tore down a Confederate memorial last summer. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in a statement Friday that Jeff McCracken will leave his position in July after 26 years with the force and 12 years as top law enforcement officer. A report commissioned by state university system officials found that because of miscommunication between police and top administrators, officers failed to install barriers around the Confederate statue nicknamed “Silent Sam” to keep protesters away. The February report found no evidence of a conspiracy to enable the monument’s toppling.
OHIO COUPLE ARRESTED FOR GIVING COOKIES LACED WITH LAXATIVES TO STRIKING SCHOOL EMPLOYEES: Police say a couple made laxative-laced cookies for striking school employees because they were tired of the noise from the picket line near their home. Authorities in eastern Ohio say none of the striking workers ate the sugar cookies, but the couple was charged with contaminating the treats. Police say the pair complained on Facebook about drivers honking in support of the striking bus drivers, cooks and custodians. Investigators say they also made a video showing the laxative pills being mixed into the cookie batter. The strike in the Claymont School District in Tuscarawas (tus-kuh-RAH'-wus) County is in its third week. Authorities say Bo Cosens and Rachel Sharrock appeared in court Tuesday to face several charges.
ASSANGE USED BLACKMAIL TO FORCE ECUADOR TO ALLOW HIM TO CONTINUE OPERATING ON THE INTERNET: Even as Ecuador harbored Mr. Assange from international prosecution, he and WikiLeaks wielded the threat of releasing damaging information against the Ecuadorean government. In October 2016, as WikiLeaks was releasing thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and the personal account of John D. Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign, Ecuador restricted Mr. Assange’s access to the internet, citing his interference in a foreign election. But WikiLeaks quickly retaliated, issuing a cryptic message that a leak against Ecuador was on its way. The tactic seemed to work. Two months later, Mr. Assange said in an interview that his internet had been restored. On Thursday, the government said it had also arrested a computer programmer in Ecuador in connection with the Assange case, contending that WikiLeaks had interfered in Ecuador’s domestic political affairs.