Thursday News: Green (big) deal


MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL GETS THUMB'S UP FROM NC SENATE COMMITTEE: A key Senate committee gave overwhelming approval Wednesday to a proposal to allow marijuana use in North Carolina for certain medical conditions and to set up a state network for supply and distribution of the drug. The vote was historic. No North Carolina Senate committee has ever taken a vote on medical marijuana. One House committee voted down a proposal back in 2015, and no bill has been heard in committee in either chamber since then before Wednesday's Senate Judiciary committee vote. Senate Bill 711 was amended to reduce the number of distribution centers from a maximum of 80 statewide to 40 and to lower the fine for an infraction to $100. Trafficking in medical marijuana would receive a slightly harsher penalty than trafficking non-medical marijuana.

UNC TRUSTEES VOTE TO GRANT TENURE TO NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: UNC-Chapel Hill trustees voted to approve tenure for distinguished journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones at a meeting Wednesday afternoon, bringing a resolution to the national controversy that has ensued over her hire. Hannah-Jones, who is a Black woman, is to join the UNC-CH faculty Thursday as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. However, she and her legal team had said she would not begin the job without tenure. The Board of Trustees had not previously offered Hannah-Jones tenure for the position, which other Knight chairs at UNC-CH have received. The board voted to do so at Wednesday’s meeting, which was triggered by UNC-CH Student Body President Lamar Richards making an official petition for a special meeting on this issue. Richards is one of two Black trustees on the board that’s making this decision. Ten of the 13 trustees are white men.

BILL THAT WOULD RAISE THE AGE OF CHILD PROSECUTION FROM 6 TO 10 (WTAF) MOVES FORWARD: A North Carolina House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to raise the minimum age at which young children have to appear before a judge, ending a roughly three-month period in which the idea stalled within the state legislature. Children as young as 6 can currently be prosecuted in the North Carolina juvenile court system — the lowest age set by law in the country. If the bill advances through the legislature and is signed into law, the age threshold would increase to 10. In the bill's current form, juvenile justice courts may exercise jurisdiction over parents of children aged 6 to 9. Instead of having young children go before a judge, the bill would provide kids in that age group with counseling services for up to six months. The proposal requires parents to attend all scheduled meetings with the juvenile court counselor, attend parental responsibility classes and work with the counselor to coordinate medical services for the child.

CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS EXPECTED FOR TRUMP'S CEO AND OTHERS: Prosecutors have told attorneys for former president Donald Trump’s business that both the company and its longtime chief financial officer are likely to be indicted on Thursday, according to two people familiar with the charges. The criminal charges expected against the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg would be the first to result from two-year investigations of Trump’s company by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). The charges set to be publicly unsealed Thursday will focus on unpaid taxes related to benefits given to Trump Organization executives, the people familiar with the case said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. It was not clear what specific charges would be returned by a New York grand jury. Trump himself is not expected to be charged this week, the people said, and no others in his orbit are expected to face imminent charges. But the indictments could mark a significant escalation in his legal problems — both by exposing his company to potential fines and by raising the pressure on Weisselberg. Prosecutors hope Weisselberg will offer testimony against Trump in exchange for lessening his own risk, according to another person familiar with the case. Attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization declined to comment, as did prosecutors. Weisselberg, who has worked for Trump since the 1980s, is considered the most important figure in the Trump Organization who is not related to Trump.

U.S. HOUSE VOTES TO FORM JANUARY 6TH (INSURRECTION) COMMITTEE: The House voted mostly along party lines on Wednesday to create a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, pushing ahead over Republican opposition with an inquiry into security failures and the origins of the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries. Under a plan devised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the 13-member panel will be dominated by Democrats, with eight members to be named by the majority party and five with input from Republicans. The select committee, which will have subpoena power, will investigate “the facts, circumstances and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack” by a pro-Trump mob, according to its organizing resolution. The measure passed 222 to 190, with only two Republicans joining the Democrats to support it. In her letter, Ms. Pelosi said the committee was necessary because Senate Republicans, at the urging of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, had blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the assault, leaving Congress with “no prospect for a commission at this time.” Several officers who were injured in the attack were on hand to watch the vote from Ms. Pelosi’s box in the House gallery. They included Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police and two District of Columbia police officers: Michael Fanone, who has lobbied Republicans to support an investigation, and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door during the rampage. Relatives of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died after clashing with the rioters, joined them.



Yes, it's early

And this will be the format for the future, as my new job has me starting at 6 am, and I ain't getting up at 4 o'clock to write the news brief. I mean, I love y'all, but not that much.

This also means that (hopefully only occasionally) hot stories might get missed, but I'm confident a few of our folks will drop those in the comments.