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Friday Forward News Roundup

The Changing Landscape of American Politics in the 2024 Election

The 2024 U.S. presidential election appears to witness a shift in voter affiliations, with a growing number of Americans disengaging from major political parties. The rise of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina and a record 63% agreement, particularly among independents, that a third major party is needed, signal dissatisfaction with the existing two-party system. Various contenders, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., No Labels, and the Forward Party, present alternatives to dissatisfied voters, raising the prospect of a historic and unpredictable election outcome. (Carolina Journal)

Controversy Surrounds 2024 North Carolina Primaries as Biden's Solo Appearance Sparks Challenges

In North Carolina's 2024 Democratic Party primary, President Joe Biden stands as the sole candidate on the ballot, leading to challenges from Democratic contenders Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson. The state's board of elections, set to meet on Jan. 2, may decide to add additional candidates. “The NC Democratic Party’s action was an effort to silence North Carolina voters’ voice and choice in this upcoming election,” wrote Williamson’s press secretary, Sydney Goldstein, adding that they hoped the state’s board of election would “protect” state voters from this attempt at “circumventing democracy.” (News & Observer)

North Carolina Proposes Rules for Voter Photo ID Requirement in 2024 Elections

North Carolina's State Board of Elections is seeking public input on proposed permanent rules for the state's voter photo ID requirement, scheduled to be in effect for the 2024 general elections. The rules aim to ensure consistent implementation across all counties, with provisions for absentee-by-mail voters to cure deficiencies and in-person voters to address concerns regarding photo resemblance at polling sites. (WFAE)

Fentanyl Crisis Grips North Carolina as Overdose Deaths Hit Record High in 2023

In 2023, the fentanyl crisis reached unprecedented levels in North Carolina, contributing to over 112,000 fatal overdoses nationwide, with young people the hardest hit. The state, grappling with rising addiction rates, faces challenges in addressing the crisis, with complex factors such as the influx of potent synthetic drugs, insufficient medical responses, and a growing cultural divide over strategies like harm reduction. (WUNC)

Homeless Individuals Bused from Fayetteville to Durham Face Challenges and Seek Return Options

Fayetteville transported 14 homeless individuals to the Durham Rescue Mission, prompting concerns and confusion among the recipients. Some individuals, unsatisfied with their accommodations and tasks at the shelter, sought alternatives to return to Fayetteville, with community organizations stepping in to provide support amid a lack of information and transportation assistance. (CBS 17)

Discontinuation of Asthma Inhaler Raises Concerns Amid Complex Health Care Changes

As of January 1, the widely used asthma inhaler Flovent is being discontinued by manufacturer GSK, which is replacing it with an identical "authorized generic." However, concerns arise as the new version may not be as broadly covered by insurers, potentially leading to delays for patients in obtaining alternatives during the respiratory virus season. The move is linked to changes in Medicaid rebates and the elimination of the cap on price increases, prompting experts to emphasize the importance of patient awareness and action in navigating these complex shifts in drug pricing and coverage. (ABC 11)

North Carolina Agriculture Thrives in 2023 Despite Challenges, Secures Economic Growth and Preservation Investments

North Carolina's agriculture sector experienced a successful year in 2023, marked by a substantial economic impact gain and budget allocations for farmland preservation and key production areas. Agriculture is North Carolina’s top industry and accounts for one fifth of the state’s workforce and an economic impact figure of $103.2 billion for 2023 for agriculture and agribusiness in the state was unveiled by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCACS) in mid-May. The previous year’s figure was $92.9 billion. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler expressed optimism but highlighted concerns about rising costs and the impact of population growth on energy resources, emphasizing the need for continued support and preservation efforts in the state's leading industry. “Specifically, that includes $25 million in funding for Farmland Preservation efforts, which I believe is critically needed; $20 million in the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program, which is focused on reducing downstream flooding from tropical storms and hurricanes; $20 million for the N.C. Agriculture Manufacturing and Processing Initiative, a new project to attract and facilitate more agribusiness development; and, nearly $8 million in funding for our agricultural research stations,” Troxler said. (North State Journal)

Lake Norman Water Levels Improve with Recent Rainfall, Caution Urged for Boaters Amid Floating Debris

After recent rainfall in the Charlotte area, Lake Norman's water levels have risen positively, alleviating drought conditions. Duke Energy is reporting that Lake Norman is now at 97.7 feet, based on a 100 full-pond level, 1.7 above its target. Lookout Shoals Lake, just upstream from Norman, has the highest relative level in the Catawba-Wateree chain, reading at 101. However, authorities warn boaters to exercise caution due to increased floating debris that poses navigation hazards, emphasizing the need for awareness and vigilance on the water. (Queen City News)

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