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Headline Roundup: NC General Assembly Has Begun Spring Recess; More

North Carolina lawmakers have left Raleigh for the next week. The General Assembly has begun a spring recess. Among the legislation lawmakers acted on before leaving for spring recess changes to the state gasoline tax and a previously announced deal that should lower electric rates in eastern North Carolina.

The General Assembly will be back in session the week of April 13 although some lawmakers may be back in Raleigh sooner to work on the state budget. The legislature has passed about a dozen bills since January. That's fewer bills compared to the same point two years ago.

Duke Energy Completes Sale Of Midwest Energy Business
Duke Energy has completed the $2.8 billion sale of its Midwest commercial energy business to Dynergy. The deal which closed yesterday includes 11 power plants in the Midwest and Pennsylvania as well as Duke’s retail energy business in Ohio. The company says it plans use $1.5 billion from the deal to buy back stock. Duke will use to rest to pay down debt and finance capital spending. The stock buy back could start as soon as next week.

SC DOT Expands Bridge Monitoring System 
The South Carolina Department of Transportation will get $800,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to expand the use of technology to monitor bridge conditions.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the state DOT will expand the use of sensors to monitor up to 50 bridges. The state currently has sensors on three bridges.

SCDOT is one of six departments nationwide to receive a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to fund demonstration programs for innovative road and bridge work to improve safety.

SC Sailor Rescued After More Than Two Months Missing At Sea
A man whose family reported him missing at sea for more than two months is back on dry land and and will be reunited with his family. The crew of a German tanker spotted Louis Jordan sitting on the overturned hull of his sailboat yesterday about 200 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras. He was taken to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia last night. 

Jordan sailed out of a marina in Conway, South Carolina, on January 23 and had not been seen or heard from since. The 37-year-old Jordan told the Coast Guard he survived by catching fish and collecting rainwater.

Pickler To Star In Reality Show
CMT has picked up a reality show starring Kellie Pickler. The show, tentatively called “I Love Kellie Pickler,” will feature the Albemarle native who rose to country music fame on American Idol and her songwriter husband Kyle Jacobs. Pickler says the show will focus on the couple’s time spent with friends including what she calls “Redneck Supper Club” parties. 

Three Productions Will Split NC's Film And Entertainment Grant Money
Three productions will split North Carolina’s $10 million film and entertainment grant for the first half of 2015. Commerce Secretary John Skvarla announced today the CBS series Under the Dome, which films in and around Wilmington, will get $5 million, a yet-to-be titled project from Lionsgate that will film in Western North Carolina is eligible for $4 million and a movie starring former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson to be filmed at Davidson College will receive up to $1 million in grant money.

The state legislature did not renew an incentives program that, through the end of 2014, had offered a 25 percent tax refund to film productions up to $20 million per project. Lawmakers are still deciding on the amount of the film grant for the next fiscal year, which starts in July.

City Officials In Raleigh Are Close To Deal To Buy Dorothea Dix Property
Officials from the city of Raleigh are close to working out the details of a deal to buy the Dorothea Dix property from the state. Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlanetells WRAL-TV she expects a contract will be ready for Governor McCrory and the council of state by their May meeting. The McCrory administration agreed to sell the site of the state’s first mental hospital to Raleigh for 52 million. The city wants to turn the 308 acre property into a regional park.