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This Hour: Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment

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LEGISLATIVE PROTESTS

Activists in 6 states plan to spread NC protests

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Organizers of regular protests at the North Carolina Legislature are being joined by NAACP leaders in a half-dozen other states to launch a week of demonstrations.

The North Carolina NAACP says that Friday will be the first of seven days of demonstrations. In North Carolina, a coalition led by the NAACP has protested at the Capitol nearly every week during the past two legislative sessions.

NAACP leaders from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin said on a conference call Tuesday that they will hold demonstrations in their states during some or all of the seven days. Organizers say demonstrations are also being planned in Mississippi.

About 900 people were arrested at protests during the 2013 legislative session in North Carolina, and about 100 were arrested during this year's session.

MEDICAL EXAMINER-MANAGER LAWSUIT

Former manager sues NC medical examiner's office

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A former manager is suing the N.C. medical examiner's office, saying he was forced into retirement because he told investigators that a state pathologist had mishandled murder evidence.

The Charlotte Observer reports 57-year-old Kevin Gerity filed a lawsuit claiming that threats to fire him violated the state's Whistleblower Act.

In 2011, Gerity told his bosses that one of the state's leading pathologists failed to turn over to detectives a bullet fragment recovered from a homicide victim. Two years later, he cooperated with an SBI probe into how evidence was handled.

In a December 2013 letter warning Gerity about his pending dismissal, the state described him as an office "bully" who acted inappropriately when he personally collected a bullet fragment left behind after an autopsy.

XGR--BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS

Breakaway Republicans block NC incentives bill

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A cadre of Republicans in the North Carolina House broke ranks with their leadership to vote down a sweeping economic incentives and tax bill they said violated core conservative principles.

More than two dozen GOP members joined Tuesday with Democrats to defeat the bill 47-54, despite backing for the measure from Gov. Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger. The multi-part bill included county sales taxes, tax benefits for a Haywood County paper mill, expanded tax breaks for new businesses and a proposed $20 million fund to lure manufacturers with upfront cash.

The hour-long floor debate over the bill laid bare deep divisions within the House GOP caucus, with several Republicans deriding the bill and the tortured process by which it had been negotiated behind closed doors.

SENATE RACE-ROMNEY

Romney headlining Tillis fundraiser in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Mitt Romney is appearing at a fundraiser in Charlotte for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

Tillis campaign spokesman Daniel Keylin said in an email that Romney was headlining the private event in Charlotte on Tuesday night.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor has publicly supported Tillis since endorsing him on the eve of the May GOP primary.

Romney appeared recently on behalf of Republican House and Senate candidates in New Hampshire and Florida, and he was scheduled to appear at campaign events Tuesday in West Virginia.

Romney won North Carolina in the 2012 presidential election with just over 50 percent of the vote.

Tillis faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

RURAL HEALTH CARE

Group recommends improvements for NC rural health

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A task force on rural health care in North Carolina says problems could be reduced through economic development, and convincing more providers to outside urban areas.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported the task force proposal was released Monday on how to help the more than 2 million people who live in rural counties.

The report says people living in the 60 rural counties are more likely to be sick and to have shorter lives than those in urban areas.

The report notes that health is closely tied to income and economic development efforts would help. It suggests that even providing better access to broadband Internet service would help.

The report also recommends improved child care and education and making sure rural residents know about insurance options.

NASCAR-JGR LINEUP

Gibbs hires Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Joe Gibbs Racing has hired Carl Edwards to drive a new fourth Sprint Cup car in 2015.

The team also added Daniel Suarez, who will drive a full-time Nationwide Series entry for Gibbs and run a partial schedule in the Truck Series. Suarez becomes the first Mexican driver to race full-time in NASCAR's second tier series.

The ARRIS Group will sponsor Edwards' No. 19 Toyota for 17 races. The company will also support Suarez.

JGR also launched a diversity initiative with the Escuderia Telmex team to provide development opportunities to Mexican and Latin American drivers in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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