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Friday Forward News Roundup

North Carolina Leads the Nation in Christmas Tree Production

The Christmas trees at your local tree lot may be even more local than you think. North Carolina is the second highest producer of Christmas trees in the country and the industry feeds local economies, especially in Western North Carolina. (WUNC)

North Carolina Sees Significant Population Growth, Ranked Third in the Nation After Texas and Florida

North Carolina's population increased by 139,526 people, making it the third-highest growth state after Texas and Florida, with a growth rate of 1.3%. Migration contributed to 91% of the growth, with over 97,000 people moving from other states and nearly 29,500 from other countries, while natural population growth accounted for the remaining 9%. North Carolina had an estimated 10,835,491 residents last July 1, according to the Census Bureau. It remains the country’s ninth most populous state but is slowly gaining on Georgia, which topped 11 million residents. (News & Observer)

Sen. Thom Tillis Withholds Endorsement for Robinson, Backs Graham in NC Governor Race

The race for the 2024 Republican nomination for governor in North Carolina intensified as U.S. Senator Thom Tillis declined to endorse front-runner Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, expressing support for Bill Graham instead. Tillis cited Robinson's lack of legislative and business experience, leading Robinson to criticize Tillis and Graham as "RINOs" (Republicans in name only) and asserting that the establishment is targeting him. (Winston-Salem Journal)

Appeals Court Rejects Meadows' Attempt to Move Election Charges to Federal Court

A federal appeals court has ruled against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, stating that he cannot move charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia to federal court. Meadows, along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others, was indicted on charges of conspiring to keep Trump in power despite losing the election to Joe Biden. The ruling is considered a victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who aims to try the remaining defendants in a single trial in a Georgia state court. (ABC 11)

NC GOP Leaders Seek to Shield Trump from Election Disqualification

Some of North Carolina's top Republican leaders, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and state House Speaker Tim Moore, are pushing for legislation to prevent the application of the U.S. Constitution's ban on insurrectionists holding office, particularly targeting former President Donald Trump. The move comes in response to recent challenges seeking to disqualify Trump from the 2024 primary election based on his alleged support for the January 6, 2021, attack on Congress. The proposed laws aim to strip federal elections funding from states citing the 14th Amendment to ban individuals, like Trump, from the ballot, bypassing the authority of state election boards. (WRAL)

Voting Rights Groups File Lawsuit Alleging Racial Gerrymandering in North Carolina Districts

Voting rights groups in North Carolina, including the state NAACP and Common Cause, have filed a comprehensive redistricting lawsuit alleging that the Republican-led legislature violated federal law by racially gerrymandering state House, state Senate, and congressional election districts. The lawsuit contends that the districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act and constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination, asserting that intentional dismantling of existing districts has diminished Black voting power. While the suit does not seek to change boundaries for the 2024 election, it aims to secure redrawn plans for 2026, highlighting concerns about discriminatory maps impacting the upcoming elections. (NC Newsline)

North Carolina Receives $7.9 Million Grant to Boost Math Education in Rural Schools

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has secured a $7.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve math education in rural schools through the PRISM initiative. The five-year program, involving 300 upper elementary educators, aims to enhance math scores, particularly among historically marginalized groups, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students, those in the lowest achievement quartile, and those from low-income backgrounds. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt emphasizes the importance of shedding legacy thinking around math, with PRISM (Patterns for Reaching and Impacting Students in Math) providing individualized support to teachers in rural areas and addressing disparities in math education exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. (North State Journal)

North Carolina Supreme Court to Revisit School Funding Dispute

The North Carolina Supreme Court is set to reconsider the issue of whether the state should pay hundreds of millions of dollars to public schools in the long-standing Leandro school funding case. Republican legislative leaders, Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, are appealing a trial judge's order stating that the state owes schools $677.8 million, arguing that only lawmakers, not the courts, have the constitutional authority to allocate state funds. The case, initiated in 1994, revolves around the state's constitutional obligation to provide every child with a sound basic education, and the court's decision in November 2022 to transfer $1.75 billion to fund educational improvements over two years. (News & Observer)

North Carolina Treasurer Divests $40 Million from Unilever over Ben & Jerry's Israel Boycott

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is divesting $40 million from Unilever, the parent company of Ben and Jerry's, due to the ice cream company's decision to boycott Israel. Folwell cites a state law that prohibits investments in companies engaged in an Israeli boycott, and he has notified local governments and state agencies that they cannot do business with Unilever. This move comes in response to Ben and Jerry's plan to end its agreement with an Israeli distributor and cease selling ice cream in the occupied West Bank. (WFAE)



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