DUKE ENERGY'S SECRET BILL LIKELY HEADED FOR A VETO: Duke Energy and House Republicans say the legislation would lead to a 61% reduction in carbon emissions and diversify the state’s energy sources. But environmental groups and House Democrats have widely criticized the bill, focusing on provisions that mandate using natural gas to replace coal-fired plants at one, and potentially two, power stations. Critics have also said the legislation undermines the N.C. Utilities Commission’s independent decision making. Gov. Roy Cooper released his first statement on the legislation Thursday, saying, “The House Republican energy legislation revealed for the first time this week would cost ratepayers too much, fall short of clean energy goals, hamper job recruitment and weaken the Utilities Commission which exists to provide accountability for utility companies.”
GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES "GUNS IN CHURCH SCHOOLS" BILL: Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday he has vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry weapons in churches that share property with private schools. Current law doesn't allow the public to carry guns on educational property. But backers said people who attend services at a church that shares property with a school should have the right to defend themselves and their congregations in case of attack. Cooper included a one-line veto message: "For the safety of students and teachers, North Carolina should keep guns off school grounds." This is the second bill Cooper has vetoed on this topic. Democratic votes would be needed for a veto override. The proposal, Senate Bill 43, did have some Democratic support, a fact noted by House Speaker Tim Moore
in his response to the veto Friday afternoon.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL STUTTERS IN HOUSE OVER FEARS IT WOULD LEAD TO FULL LEGALIZATION: Eight. That’s the number of times in the past 16 days that the N.C. House has pulled from its calendar a bill that could legalize the medical use of marijuana. Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Winston-Salem Republican, said the bill had unanimous support until it reached the House floor, when concerns were raised that it could unintentionally legalize all uses of marijuana. And Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat, made the move to do just that Thursday when he filed an amendment to the bill that would not only regulate the use of medical marijuana but also legalize the drug’s recreational use. Moore added that his decision to pull the bill from Thursday’s calendar had nothing to do with Meyer’s amendment. “I’ve already told Rep. Meyer I would rule that amendment out of order, because it goes well beyond the scope of this bill,” Moore said. “There’s been some other truly practical legal questions about what the bill does. There’s no question what his amendment would do,” he said.
TRUMPER WHO THREATENED TO LYNCH CONGRESSMEN PLEADS GUILTY, COULD GET 12 YEARS: In the plea agreement, Mr. Hubert acknowledged that on May 6, 2019, he had called the Washington office of Mr. Cohen, who is Jewish, and told a staff member that he had “a noose with the congressman’s name on it” and planned to “put a noose around his neck” and drag him behind his pickup truck. Three days later, F.B.I. agents went to Mr. Hubert’s home, where he admitted making the call and said he had done so because he was offended by a comment that Mr. Cohen had made about Donald J. Trump, who was president, the agreement states. On Jan. 7, a day after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Hubert called Mr. Cleaver’s office in Independence, Mo., and, according to the plea agreement, left a voice mail message in which he called Mr. Cleaver, who is Black, a racial slur, and said, “How about a noose around his neck?” After F.B.I. agents went to Mr. Hubert’s home on Jan. 19, he admitted that he had called Mr. Cleaver’s office, acknowledged that his message was threatening and said he had been upset about a comment that Mr. Cleaver had made in the House of Representatives, the agreement states. Mr. Hubert had a history of making threatening and hostile phone calls, according to prosecutors. On the morning of Jan. 6, they said, he called the Missouri Democratic Party and left a message saying the party should “stay in hiding. Steal the election, we got something for you.” In a second voice mail later that day, he pointed to the siege at the Capitol and said, “It’s coming your way next,” prosecutors said.
HARDLINE CLERIC SET TO BECOME IRAN'S NEXT PRESIDENT: Ebrahim Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who has opposed engagement with the United States, appeared poised to win Iran’s presidential election early Saturday after the remaining candidates in the race congratulated him on his victory, according to Iranian state media. Preliminary tallies by the interior ministry showed that Raisi received nearly 18 million votes out of 28 million total ballots cast, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency. His nearest rival, Mohsen Rezaei, received 3 million votes. Iran has roughly 64 million eligible voters, including citizens overseas. Deputy interior minister Jamal Orf said 90 percent of votes had been tallied so far. Raisi, 60, a fixture of Iran’s conservative establishment and an acolyte of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, currently serves as chief of the judiciary. Human rights groups have linked Raisi to episodes of repression over decades and said he played a central role in mass killings of dissidents in the late 1980s. He will replace President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate whose government signed the 2015 nuclear accord with the U.S. and other world powers, and later, was subjected to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” aimed at crippling Iran’s economy using sanctions and other measures. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear accord in 2018. While Raisi has expressed a willingness to revive the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in line with Khamenei’s wishes, his presidency seemed certain to mark a radical departure from the Rouhani era, with little prospect for liberalizing domestic reforms or any broadening of Tehran’s relationship with the West, analysts said.