Hands On Charlotte To Merge With United Way; Cooper Says HB 2 Repeal Still Possible

Jan 16, 2017

Volunteer organization Hands On Charlotte plans to merge with the United Way of Central Carolinas in a deal agreed upon last week. Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper was in Charlotte Monday morning for the YMCA’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, where he said he still holds out hope that lawmakers will repeal the state’s controversial House Bill 2.  

UNITED WAY TAKING OVER HANDS ON CHARLOTTE

The United Way of Central Carolinas says it's taking over the local volunteer organization Hands On Charlotte.  Boards of the two groups approved a letter of intent to merge last week.  

The 25-year-old Hands On Charlotte will become part of the United Way's Volunteer Center.  Hands On Charlotte attracts about 12,400 volunteers for 30,000 hours of service per year.

The groups said the merger will create a “unified resource” for individual and corporate volunteers in Charlotte.

“We believe volunteerism and civic engagement will play a key role in our success as a community,” United Way executive director Sean Garrett said in a statement. “The combination of our two organizations will allow us to take an innovative approach to volunteer activities and create more opportunities for individuals and companies to get involved.”

Hands On Charlotte’s executive director, Eric Law, previously announced plans to retire. He’ll remain until the merger is completed, sometime early in the year.  

See the announcement on the United Way of Central Carolinas website. 

COOPER SAYS HB 2 REPEAL STILL POSSIBLE

Gov. Roy Cooper says he thinks it’s still possible to work out a deal with legislative leaders to repeal House Bill 2. That’s the state law that limits protections for LGBT people and tells transgender people they have to use the bathroom of the sex on their birth certificates.

Cooper talked about the law Monday morning, at the YMCA's annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Charlotte.

He told reporters that he's spoken with GOP Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore since an earlier deal to repeal House Bill 2 fell apart in December.

"We've had it out. A couple of times, we've talked," Cooper told reporters after speaking at the YMCA. "They certainly do want to move forward in some way."

The issue is that legislative leaders want a majority of Republican lawmakers on board before voting on repeal, he said. .

"My argument to them is that there are enough overall votes - even if you don't have a majority (in the) Republican caucuses - to pass repeal. And I'm urging them to do so. It's too important to our state," he said.

Since HB 2 passed last March, protests have included cancelations of concerts, performances, and collegiate athletic events. And some companies have decided not to locate or expand in the state.

COOPER WON’T BUDGET FOR SCHOOL VOUCHERS

Gov. Roy Cooper says he opposes using taxpayer dollars for children to attend K-12 private or religious schools. But there's no sign that initiative created by Republican lawmakers is going away.

Cooper told The Associated Press his state budget proposal won’t include funding for so-called vouchers. He spent the gubernatorial campaign criticizing Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers for creating the initiative. But the GOP still holds veto-proof majorities and already agreed to increase funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program through the next decade.

A divided state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the grant program in 2015. It will be difficult to upset a landmark decision even though a Democratic majority began on the court this month.

GAS PRICES DECLINE IN CHARLOTTE

Average gas prices fell in Charlotte over the past week. A gallon of gas averages $2.21, down 1.9 cents from a week earlier. That's according to the website Gas Buddy, which surveyed 665 stations in Charlotte. Charlotte's price is below the national average, which is now $2.34.

A SESSION BEGINS, 2 S.C. LAWMAKERS SUSPENDED

South Carolina's legislative session has begun with two lawmakers suspended and more suspensions possible as a prosecutor investigates Statehouse corruption. Cases of the two suspended House members are vastly different, and legislators are calling on only one to resign. But for residents of both districts, the result is an absent representative.

Representative Chris Corley of Aiken County faces up to 25 years in prison for allegations he beat his wife late Dec. 26. He has not returned phone calls or publicly responded to calls to resign.

Representative Jim Merrill of Charleston is accused of illegally profiting from his position. He says he did nothing illegal and will fight the charges.

Their suspensions follow several high-profile resignations since 2012 amid allegations of harassment and ethics violations.

NO EVIDENCE FOUND THAT TEACHER ASSAULTED MUSLIM STUDENT

An elementary school in Charlotte has found no evidence that a teacher assaulted a Muslim kindergarten student last year. The Council on American-Islamic Relations had called for an investigation last November into the David Cox Road elementary teacher, saying the teacher had subjected a Muslim student to relentless bullying and harassment, including grabbing the student by the neck and choking him.

But WBTV reports that the school’s principal sent a letter to parents on Friday that said an investigation by CMS police found credible evidence that no assault occurred. The teacher is expected to resume teaching at the school.

TNT’S ‘GOOD BEHAVIOR’ TO FILM SEASON 2 IN WILMINGTON

A TNT television series featuring a star of "Downton Abbey" will film a second season in Wilmington.

The StarNews of Wilmington reports TNT officials said "Good Behavior" starring Michelle Dockery has been renewed.

The executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios, Bill Vassar, then confirmed the series would return to Wilmington for the second season.

The announcements came just days after "Good Behavior" wrapped up its 10-episode first season.

Dockery stars as a con woman and thief recently out of prison and looking to straighten out her life to regain custody of her son. Dockery also starred as Lady Mary Crawley on "Downton Abbey."

Another series filmed in Wilmington airs its first episode Wednesday. "Six" will air on the History channel.