With closet cleaned at General Assembly, issues still remain

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- If bills were clothing, then North Carolina lawmakers just finished setting out the few items they can see themselves wearing and sending the rest the attic. The Republican-controlled General Assembly just pushed past its biennial "crossover" deadline, as more than 200 bills cleared either the House or the Senate during the week. With exceptions, policy measures without specific taxes or spending that didn't pass one chamber are probably dead through 2018.

Farms' thirst for water roils Wisconsin's central sands

TOWN OF OASIS, Wis. (AP) -- Cris Van Houten thought he was getting a little bit of paradise when he built his house on Huron Lake in Wisconsin's central sands region. He could look out from his deck at the blue water and scuba dive in the shallows. Less than 10 years later, he and his neighbors are watching their beloved lake dry up.

Claims, cost for vehicle damage on state roadways rising

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Taxpayers are spending more to settle claims for vehicles damaged and wrecked on South Carolina's crumbling roads. The State newspaper reports Friday (http://bit.ly/2pu29s4 ) that South Carolina has spent nearly $50 million since 2010 to settle lawsuits and claims for vehicle damage and injuries. About $7 million of that was spent in just the last 10 months. That's nearly $1 million more than was paid during the prior fiscal year.

The Latest: Trump signs spending bill that prevents shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on efforts in Congress to repeal the health care law and agree on a spending bill to keep the government open (all times local): 8:20 p.m. President Donald Trump has signed a short-term, stopgap spending bill keeping the government functioning and avoiding a shutdown on his 100th day in office. Trump signed the bill in private Friday night after he returned to the White House from a daytrip to Atlanta.

Congress settles for stopgap to avoid government shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress took the easy way out to keep the government open on the eve of Donald Trump's 100th day in office, passing a weeklong stopgap spending bill Friday that amounted to more of a defeat for the president than a victory. Lawmakers cleared the measure easily and Trump signed it with just hours to spare before the shutdown deadline at midnight.

GOP bill would discipline hecklers at college speeches

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- University of Wisconsin students who disrupt speeches and demonstrations could be expelled and campuses would have to remain neutral on public issues under a bill Republican legislators are pushing this week. The bill comes as free speech issues have grown more contentious on college campuses across the country.

Trump signs order creating accountability office at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday created an office at the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve accountability and protect whistleblowers, calling it a "bold step forward." Trump, who made improving veterans' care a prominent issue in his presidential campaign, said the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection will make clear "that we will never, ever tolerate substandard care for our great veterans.

Police footage access expanded, but city councilors excluded

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Some North Carolina lawmakers agreed on Thursday to add city managers to the list of people who would be allowed to view footage from police body cameras or dashcams, but excluded city councilors, saying they didn't need to be in the know and perhaps couldn't be trusted to keep the information to themselves.

Disputes over abortion, financial rules slow spending bill

Political fights over abortion, financial regulations and Puerto Rico have slowed Republican and Democratic negotiators working on a sweeping, government-wide spending bill. President Donald Trump's tweetstorm lashing out at Democrats didn't help. Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown on Trump's 100th day in office.

The Latest: Democrats block spending bill as shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on efforts in Congress to repeal the health care law and agree on a spending bill to keep the government open (all times local): 7:15 p.m. Senate Democrats have blocked a quick vote on a short-term spending bill less than 30 hours before the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Republicans had sought approval late Thursday, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeking an agreement. But Democratic leader Chuck Schumer objected.

Texas House OKs 'sanctuary city' ban with tough jail penalty

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Texas House approved a strict ban on "sanctuary cities" early Thursday, empowering local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law against anyone they detain and threatening police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to do so with jail. The vote came just before 3 a.m. and followed 15-plus hours of heated, sometimes tearful debate, much of it from outnumbered Democrats.

Trump to sign order creating accountability office at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Thursday creating an accountability and whistleblower protection office at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Trump, who made improving veterans' care a prominent issue as he campaigned for office, was to issue the order while visiting the VA. It will create a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the department.

Short of support, House won't vote on health bill this week

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House won't vote on Republican legislation scuttling much of President Barack Obama's health care law until at least next week, a GOP leader said Thursday. The decision deals a setback to the White House, which has pressured congressional Republicans to pass the bill by Saturday -- President Donald Trump's 100th day in office. "As soon as we have the votes, we'll vote on it," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Jefferson Muzzle 'awards' take aim at free-speech offenders

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Tennessee sheriff accused of deleting atheists' comments on a county Facebook page, a school chief who dismissed a teacher who stepped on the American flag in class, and the U.S. Senate for a bill targeting speech on college campuses are among the winners of the Jefferson Muzzles -- satiric awards bestowed annually by a free-speech group.

Utah Rep. Chaffetz needs surgery, will be away for weeks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (CHAY'-fits) of Utah says he needs immediate foot surgery and will be out of Washington for three to four weeks, missing a key vote on a spending bill to keep the government open. Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, surprised the political world last week by announcing he will not seek re-election.

North Carolina primary moved permanently in Senate bill

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Some General Assembly members want to move up permanently North Carolina's primary elections for state and federal offices held every two years. The Senate voted Wednesday night for changing the primary from the Tuesday following the first Monday in May to the same date in March. The legislature had shifted the 2016 primary to March 15 so the state could wield more influence over the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Immunity sought for NC motorists who hit protesters in roads

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A motorist who strikes a protester blocking a public road in North Carolina would be immune from civil liability -- under a bill before lawmakers -- if the driver exercised "due care." Backers of the proposal advancing Wednesday in the North Carolina House said granting immunity would protect drivers traveling legally on a highway or street when a protester is injured. Republican sponsor Rep.