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News In Brief

'Pizzagate' Gunman Sentenced To 4 Years; NC GOP Vows To Override Gov. If He Vetoes Budget

The North Carolina man who fired an assault rifle inside a District of Columbia pizzeria has been sentenced to 4 year in prison. Meanwhile, North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger says legislators "will quickly override" Gov. Roy Cooper should he choose to veto the Republican-backed budget. And, Duke Energy is moving forward with its request to raise rates by 15 percent for 1.3 million North Carolina customers.

Here are Thursday's top headlines on WFAE.

"Pizzagate" Gunman In DC Sentenced To 4 Years

The North Carolina man who fired an assault rifle inside a District of Columbia pizzeria has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Edgar Maddison Welch was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Washington. His attorney had asked that he be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison. Prosecutors asked for 4.5 years.

Welch was investigating a conspiracy theory known as “pizzagate.” As part of a guilty plea, Welch acknowledged entering the Comet Ping Pong restaurant last December with an AR-15 assault weapon and a revolver. He said he drove to the restaurant from North Carolina to investigate an unfounded conspiracy theory about Democrats harboring child sex slaves at the pizza restaurant.

No one was physically injured, but the judge says Welch’s actions "literally left psychological wreckage.”

GOP Vows To Override Cooper Should He Veto Budget

North Carolina Republican leaders are daring Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to sign the two-year state budget that will soon be heading to his desk, saying the spending plan contains many items that Cooper sought.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters Thursday the plan contains middle-class tax cuts, nearly 10 percent teacher raises on average over two years, and money for Hurricane Matthew relief and reserves. The Senate has already approved the budget. The House was slated to hold its final vote Thursday afternoon.

Cooper already has criticized the budget as "fiscally irresponsible," but has not yet said whether he will veto it. If he did so, Berger said legislators "will quickly override" him.

Fall Hearings Set As Duke Energy Seeks 15 Percent Rate Hike

Utilities regulators plan to hear from consumers and experts this fall about whether to allow a 15 percent increase in the electricity bills of 1.3 million North Carolina customers.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission on Thursday released a schedule for September and October hearings as it considers Duke Energy Progress' request to add $18 more per month to the typical household bill of $105. The subsidiary of the country's largest electric company operates in much of eastern North Carolina and around Asheville.

The commission plans to hear public comments in Rockingham, Raleigh, Asheville, Snow Hill and Wilmington, then grill experts in Raleigh on Oct. 16.

Senate OKs Bill To Expand North Carolina's 'Revenge Porn' Law

The Senate has approved a bill to expand North Carolina's "revenge porn" law from cases involving former lovers to those involving strangers.

Senators voted Thursday for the changes to the current law. It's illegal for someone to disclose nude or sexual images of a person without the person's consent and with the intent to identify the person and cause harm.

The latest measure would extend the penalties to cases beyond those where the people already had relationships. The bill also would punish anyone who obtained such images without the depicted person's consent.

The penalty is a felony for anyone 18 years of age or older, and a misdemeanor for anyone younger than that, unless it's a repeat offense. The bill returns to the House for another vote.

Relatives Of Sterilization Victims Won't Continue Appeal

Some surviving relatives of people involuntarily sterilized decades ago through a North Carolina program are ending their efforts to obtain financial compensation.

A lawyer for the estates of three victims said Thursday they won't ask the state Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that upheld a denial of payments.

A 2013 law says only victims alive on June 30, 2013, could receive compensation. The relatives argued the deadline violated the rights of the deceased.

About 200 victims have received $35,000 so far. The appeal's end means victims could soon get more.