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Charlotte Area News

Sat. Headlines: Voter ID Suits Go Forward

Four lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s voter ID requirement are headed to trial this summer. Superior Court Judge Michael Moran Friday declined to rule in cases challenging the Voter ID provision of the state election overhaul law passed in 20-13. Morgan denied a motion from opponents to put the voter I-D requirement on hold. But he also refused a request by the state of North Carolina's attorney to dismiss the lawsuits. The voter ID provision is supposed to go into effect in 2016. Three federal lawsuits also have been filed challenging other parts of the election law. Those cases also are scheduled for trial this summer.

UNC ACADEMIC CENTERS TO CLOSE

The UNC system board of governors voted unanimously Friday to close three academic centers, after a study of more than 200 centers at the state’s public universities. Closing are UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity, East Carolina University’s Center for Bio-Diversity, and North Carolina Central’s Institute for Civic Engagement.

State lawmakers have asked the university system to re-direct $15 million dollars way from the centers, and toward core university activities.

Jim Holmes, who headed the work group that recommended the cuts, said: "The actions in those three centers could be performed by an individual in a department no differently than actions that go on every day in the university. So when you look at it fairly, factually and objectively, you arrive at that conclusion pretty simply.

The head of UNC’s Poverty Center called the recommendation to close the center retaliation for his accusing Governor Pat McCrory and state lawmakers of not doing enough to fight poverty.

FIRE DEPARTMENT VET RETIRES AMID CONTROVERSY

The Charlotte Fire Department says Deputy Chief Jeff Dulin is retiring. Dulin was put on administrative leave this week over concerns about a photo he posed on Facebook. The photo showed Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner on a Fruit Loops box. Jenner has been reported to be transitioning to a woman. Late last year, Charlotte Fire Department dismissed an investigator over a Facebook post about the violence in Ferguson, Missouri. An audit of several city employees released this week also found Dulin was wrongly reimbursed for 2800 dollars in expenses. He has paid that money back to the city.

SC DEMS PICK NEW DIRECTOR

South Carolina Democrats have a new leader. Jason Perkey had been executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party for the past two years. South Carolina State Party Chair Jaime Harrison announced Perkey's hiring yesterday. He's a graduate of Coker College in Hartsville and has a law degree from Vermont Law School.

TITLE GAMES TODAY AT CIAA

The CIAA college basketball tournament wraps up Saturday in Charlotte. The tournament Fan Fest runs from noon to 8pm at the Charlotte Convention Center with live music, a step show and other activities. The women’s championship game is at 4 o’clock at Time Warner Cable Arena, pitting Virginia State against  Lincoln. The men’s title game is at 7 o’clock, when Livingstone will face Winston Salem State.

BLUE CROSS REPORTS A RARE  LOSS

Blue Cross and Blue shield of North Carolina says it lost money last year for the first time since 1999. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the loss of just over $50 million was a reversal from 2013, when the insurer reported income of more than 92 million dollars.

Blue Cross said the loss came from insuring high numbers of older and sicker people under the Affordable Care Act.  The company said it signed up 257,704 people under the health care law, which requires insurers to cover people regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Revenues in 2014 reached a record $8 billion, but claims increased by $1.4 billion, to $6.4 billion for the year.